Volume 96, Issue 74
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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Fairs unfair to the competition

By Jordan Bell and Ryan Hickman
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette
 

John Wooden. Red Auerbach. Jack Fairs.

Architects of dynasties come few and far between. The Wooden-led UCLA Bruins basketball team won 10 National Collegiate Athletics Association Championships in 12 years. The Boston Celtics, under the helm of Auerbach, won 11 NBA championships. On Saturday, the Western men's squash team made it 20 straight Ontario University Athletics team championships.

Throughout those 20 years, one man has been at the helm of Mustangs men's squash – Jack Fairs. Western squash is the benchmark for squash excellence across Canada and has become a haven for the country's best players who haven't quit school to focus on a professional career or taken a scholarship to the NCAA.

"You don't really think about it. If you're not going pro, it's just a given that you go to Western," said two-time OUA individual champion Robert Nigro. "There's a good chance the older guys you play from clubs in Toronto went to Western."

Coaching has been a part of Fairs's life since 1948, when he coached the Mustangs' football and basketball teams. Eventually, the short and chipper coach began coaching the squash team in the 1963-64 season.

"Our program is attractive to people," Fairs said. "If you work hard and foster it, you'll attract people. [The teams] down south [at Ivy League schools in the United States] set the benchmark for success at Western."

Fairs has already snagged the top junior from British Columbia, Mark Ridgeway, for next season.

Fairs's longevity at the university hasn't decreased his immense love for squash, and his extremely bubbly and talkative personality is evident when the topic of squash (or any sport for that matter) is introduced.

Nigro said much of the motivation for Western players to succeed is derived from their coach.

"The majority of how hard we play is for Jack. He does so much for us and puts in so much effort trying to get us private funding," Nigro said concerning the long days and nights Fairs puts in for the program.

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