Volume 96, Issue 76
Thursday, February 13, 2003

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Purple Pipe: Jack Fairs

Three out of four ain't bad, but 30 out of 40 is damn-near unheard of.

Beth Kerim/Gazette
JUST ONE OF 30. This week's Purple Pipe winner Jack Fairs is draped in the latest of his amazing 30 total OUA championship banners.

This week's recipient of the Purple Pipe is Western squash coach Jack Fairs, winner of 30 Ontario University Athletics team championships in men's squash over the past 40 years.

Did we mention his teams have won two National Collegiate Athletics Association Championships and just won its 20th consecutive OUA title? It is also worth noting that he coached Western's men's football and basketball teams from 1947-62, while playing semi-pro baseball from 1947-53 with 1948 North American Sandlot Champions, the London Nationals, before taking the reigns of the squash program.

That's a mouthful.

Tucked away in a cozy office in Thames Hall, the always enthusiastic – and very talkative – Fairs sits at his desk, rummaging through throngs of papers and folders, trying to find pictures of various athletes he has coached over the years.

Fairs speaks highly of his athletes, like a proud father, and remembers all their names, faces, areas of study, shoe size and what they went on to after their squash career at Western was over.

So now the Pipe is added to Jack's mile-long – and it probably is literally a mile long – list of trophies, championships, plaques, awards and squash racquets.

Maybe that's why his office seemed so cozy.

– Benjamin Mills

Kickin' it: Jack of all trades

The gents from Gazette sports sauntered over to men's squash coach Jack Fairs's office in Thames Hall to chew the fat with this week's Purple Pipe winner, who happens to be the first coach to win the prestigious award. Sitting amongst squash racquets, Fairs talked to us about everything from baseball to Thai food.

What position did you play when you played football here at Western?

I played halfback on offense and on defense. We all played both ways back then.

What would you say was the sport that you were best at (considering he played football, basketball, tennis, squash and... ?)

Baseball. I played catcher for the London Majors in 1948 when we won the North American semi-pro championships. We were the first team to be inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame.

Do you think Jonathan Powers (Canadian bad-boy squash star) is good for the sport of squash?

I know Jon really well. He has a lot of flare, but he has certainly been a positive influence for squash.

What is the difference between coaching basketball, football and squash?

Basketball and football players know what it means to be a team. Squash players have never been in a team atmosphere because they have mainly only played at clubs. Squash is a lot more individualistic.

In your squash prime, do you think you could have beat (this year's OUA individual champ from Western) Robert Nigro?

No. I could play, but these guys are good. These are a high quality bunch of guys playing here now.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day?

I want to take my wife to that Thai restaurant on Wellington Street for the lunch buffet as a Valentine's treat. If you know my wife she would say, "Let's not over do it."


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