Volume 93, Issue 70

Thursday, February 3, 1999


Fairing well from court to court

Hockey night at Western

Not enough penalties for Rocker

Fairing well from court to court

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

Jack Fairs, head coach of Western's squash team, has been coaching at Western since 1947.

During those years he led football, basketball, tennis and squash teams to great heights. Twenty questions spotlights Fairs this week and discusses over 50 years of Mustang sports.

Fairs said he graduated from Western in 1946 with a chemistry degree at a time when there was not an abundance of graduate work in Canada for physical education.

"I was offered a job in athletics here at Western when I graduated, but there was no grad work at the time. I attended Columbia University in New York to do my masters in phys-ed. There were a lot of Canadians there."

Fairs coached both football and basketball in his early years at Western and said basketball in particular was extremely popular in London at the time.

"Colt basketball was involved in a four team intermediate league with [McMaster University, the University of Guelph] and Windsor University," Fairs said about the early league. "We played all over the place. Western was very competitive with a lot of the teams from the States – something they've kind of lost sight of."

The squash program at Western began to flourish after Thames Hall was built. It consisted of three courts and Fairs said at the time, the University of Toronto and McGill University boasted the top teams.

"It wasn't until 1970 that Western started their real dominance of university squash. We had an influx of talent and with more experienced players coming here, even more followed in their footsteps. A lot of the time, good players will attract other good people to the program."

Fairs said one memory in particular stood out from his many years in the coaching game – it involved two squash championships and a lot of travelling in one weekend.

"In 1980 we had some of the top players in Canada playing in the hardball championships in Toronto, as well as a softball tournament at McMaster – all on the same weekend," Fairs said. "Our team was going back and forth, hard to soft. The number one player from the U.S. and the number one player from Mexico [were] there."

Coaching was always an interest for Fairs and he said the love of the job and the game kept him coming back. "Squash is such an exciting game and no one has a squash community like ours. We have seven, three man teams and you only need six for the [Ontario University Athletic] finals, so needless to say, we have a huge talent pool."

However, Fairs said in all the years he has coached squash and all the success the Western program has garnered, the lack of courts on campus was disappointing.

"Western is in desperate need for more courts. Our team has to practice at three different places around London, making it almost impossible to develop any sort of team cohesion," he said. "We're the only university in Ontario that doesn't have any. Any success this program has had is due to the wonderful players we've been able to attract."

Fairs has always enjoyed catching up with past players and teams he has been involved with, as the role of coach can often go much deeper. Whenever he sees alumni, there is always very little discussion involving the actual sport.

"We talk more about the relationship between teammates and the enjoyment they've had just being a part of the team," Fairs noted. "This past Homecoming, the '59 championship football [team] had a reunion dinner and it was just great to listen to the great stories and memories."

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