In the wake of their successful collegiate squash careers, former Crimson athletes Gregory Lee ’87 and Russell Ball ’88 have recently announced Harvard’s 11th endowed coaching position.
“Russ and I had a great experience at Harvard playing squash,” Lee said. “We made some of our best friends at college from participating in squash, and so we really wanted the program to have the support and also the leader that we had had when we were at Harvard.”
Lee and Ball also made some serious plays for the Crimson record books.
During their four years playing for Harvard, Lee and Ball helped their teams take home four national championship titles. Ball, a three-time All-American and four-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, also captained his squad as a senior.
The pair credited much of its success, however, to the passion and dedication of then-squash coach Dave Fish ’72.
“He really is like an institution,” said Lee of Fish’s coaching legacy. “He understands the standpoint of hitting the ball as well as the psychological side.”
This nuanced understanding came, at least in part, from Fish’s own experience as captain of both the tennis and squash teams—he led the squads to three national squash championships and one Ivy League tennis championship.
Afterward, in his 13 years as the men’s squash coach, Fish led the Crimson to seven national titles, including a six-year winning streak.
But Fish was forced to redirect his efforts as Harvard tennis gained momentum and expanded its schedule.
“Fish became solely the [men’s] tennis coach because tennis became more of a two-season sport,” Lee explained. “It was too hard to coach squash at same time.”
Now, fast forward two decades to the summer of 2010 in which the Crimson was in desperate need of a new Director of Squash.
An advisory board comprised of the Nichols Family Director of Athletics Bob Scalise and a group of alumni including Lee and Ball conducted a search that spanned across North America and, according to Lee, possibly “around the world.”
But financial concerns grew as the board crunched numbers and considered the salaries of many of the top candidates.
“To really put the squash program in the shape where it could hire among the best candidates and then provide a job where they could be there for a long time,” said Lee, ”The squash program needed some financial support.”
And so the idea of the endowment was born.