Winning without squat
There are many students at this university that were not even born the last time a men's squash squad that wasn't from Western won the Ontario University Athletics Championship.
The Mustangs men will gun for their 20th consecutive OUA team title this weekend at the Town and Country Racquet Club in Hyde Park. To put things in perspective, when the squash team was winning their initial titles, America was supplying weapons to Saddam Hussein.
More than politics has changed since those early days. As part of the current tiered athletic model unveiled by Western administration last spring, the squash team falls under the "self-funded" category, just like every other racquet sport at Western. As you might already assume, that means the squash team foots their own bills for everything from equipment to travelling expenses.
A 19-year winning streak would have been remarkable had the team received diamond-studded racquets every year, however, it's almost incomprehensible when you consider that the team now receives no funding from administration.
The hurdle clearing doesn't stop there.
For the past six years, the team has been the varsity sports version of hobos, relegated to practicing off-campus, due to a lack of facilities to hone their craft at Western. We can only assume there is no money allotted by the university to cover the added expense of transporting these athletes to their various practice sites around the city.
It's a refreshing twist to see a Western team, not only winning the big prize at a clip that goes well beyond the realm of consistency, but doing it while raising their own funds. Maybe each squash team member should get an honourary business degree.
The fact that Western has built such a powerhouse program has certainly aided their recruiting process. Who wouldn't want to come to a team where winning is as certain as sweating? However, being classified as a self-funded team jeopardizes Western's status as a place squash players want to pack their racquet and head for.
The calibre of players the Mustangs attract have more than one schooling option. Many players eligible for scholarships from solid American schools have probably chosen to come to Western because of the winning tradition.
However, now that part of the Western squash experience might include car washes on Sundays to raise money for the team, the scholarship money offered to go play in a foreign country is going to start to look a lot more attractive to prospective racquet swingers.
Given the hardships they've endured, The Gazette hopes we have
not added to the obstacles facing the Western squash team by jinxing them
after bringing their achievements to light. Then again, considering the
resilience they've demonstrated, we're not too worried.