With the help of a coach on the rise, Harvard squash may be the Way of the future for many years to come.
Mike Way, who coaches both the men’s and women’s squash teams, had both squads among the best in the nation in 2012. The women’s team finished 17-0 and won the CSA Team National Championship, its second in the last three years; and the men’s squad ended the season at 16-4, with a third-place finish in the CSA Team Championships, its highest since 2007.
Though he has been around the sport for most of his life, Way’s position with the Crimson is a new one. After spending much of the past three decades coaching squash in various capacities in Canada, Way moved to Cambridge in 2010 to accept his first job in the U.S. college ranks.
“It’s a different challenge, and I’m growing into it,” Way says. “But I would use the word ‘relish.’ I’m relishing the challenge and enjoying it. Each month I get into it more, [and] I enjoy it more.”
This season, his second at Harvard, Way had the luxury of coaching the top two individual squash players in the country. Sophomore Ali Farag won the CSA Individual National Championship on the men’s side, while freshman Amanda Sobhy duplicated the feat in the women’s tournament.
“I’ve coached world champions and other elite players, and there have been a lot of titles in there, but this might be the best job of the lot,” Way says.
With such elite talent, the mental aspect of the sport often becomes just as important as the physical side, something that, according to women’s co-captain Cece Cortes, Way was able to manage with ease.
“He is the kind of coach who takes on his players as an entire person,” Cortes says. “He doesn’t shy away from working out people’s mental games, and for a lot of coaches, that is tough to do because you mess with your players in a way beyond technique.”
Cortes believes that, given his ability to combine his long experience in the sport with a propensity for teaching, the success Way and the Crimson achieved in 2011-12 is a harbinger of good things to come in the future.
“It’s an individual sport so you often find coaches who can connect with one or two people, but Mike has proven to connect with all types of players,” Cortes says. “I think that says a lot for him in terms of his longevity at Harvard.”
—Staff writer Andrew R. Mooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.