"Your opponent is a ball of string. You're not going to beat him right away. Keep him moving. Get in the center-and don't let up. Little by little he'll start to run out. And then, BANG. You've got him. That's what I tell my players."
The same formula, with constantly changing imagery, has made Crimson squash coach Jack Barnaby the most successful man in his trade. Intercollegiate and national amateur honors have been heaped upon his teams almost yearly during his sixteen seasons as head coach. None of his teams have ever finished lower than third in the intercollegiate field, and his players have won more individual intercollegiate championships than all other college players combined.
He is obviously a man who loves to coach, and who loves the games he coaches. In fall and spring he handles tennis, but one quickly gets the impression that squash claims the larger portion of his heart. There is nothing he would rather talk about.
"Squash, like no other game," he says, "reveals a man's true character. It stands there like a judge and says, 'Measure up' You have to play hard and fast all the time, but simultaneously you must regard your opponent's game, and sometimes let him at the shot that will beat you. It's a gentleman's game, and you have to be a gentleman to play it."
No Coaching Dream
Baruaby took up the game when he entered Harvard with the Class of 1932. In his junior year he "beat a few people" and came to the attention of his predecessor. Harry Cowles. That year he was alternate and the next year he was third man on teams that won national amateur titles.
After graduation, he became freshman coach. "I never dreamed of coaching, but there was a depression and there weren't any jobs." For five years he held that position and then took over for Cowles in 1937.
He married a Smith girl in 1940, and now he and his wife have two boys, 10 and 7, and a girl, 5. In the summer he takes them to Duxbury, where he is tennis pre at the yacht. club. "We have 125 kids there, and miles of backboards. It's a regular tennis factory. Last year we beat Scituate by half a point, 601/2 to 60. They are our big rivals. We hate them most."
But most of the year he lives in South Lincoln. He commutes daily, spending his mornings at the Tennis and Squash Shop on Mount Auburn St. He goes over to Hemenway just after noon for his afternoons of coaching.
Barnaby coaching is complete absorption. For every statement there is a motion. "Be sure to get in the center." He jumps to the center of whatever room he is in. "Hit one back on this side." He swings an imaginary racquet. "Then hit one on this side." He swings again. "Now give him a soft one." He delicately flicks his wrist. "Pretty soon he won't be able to get it." he Mines the opponent reaching futilely. It is impossible to ignore him.
Another Ball of String
This ability to captivate his players, combined with his intricate knowledged of the game, keeps his teams near or at the top of the intercollegiate field, despite the fact that the field is growing every year. Before the war there were less than ten college teams competing. Now, there are 23. But still the Crimson continues to dominate the intercollegiate scene. He has had two of the past three intercollegiate team champions and the last three straight individual champions.
The increase in intercollegiate teams means merely an increasing number of opposing coaches awed by Barnaby's consistently excellent products. Barnaby, too, they find, is a ball of string. But the more they unwind him, the better he seems to get. There will be quite a few more national champions in Hemenway before he finally goes BANG and they get him.