By MAX PRINZ
Fordham hosted NYU for the first women’s squash match in Fordham history, this past Sunday. Six Fordham young women competed in what could become the newest addition to Fordham Athletics.
The Fordham women’s basketball team is having its best season in school history. The softball team is coming off of a 32 win season, including 14 wins in the A-10 conference. The women’s tennis team finished last year with 17 wins. The women’s swimming team finished the season with 10 wins. And now, that female athletic tradition looks to grow even stronger as women’s squash comes to Fordham.
“We have to call it ‘Women’s Squash at Fordham,’” said men’s squash head coach Bryan Patterson. “It is not yet approved, and it’s not financed by the University. If we can keep it going for two years, play matches, get around ourselves, finance it ourselves, the University then says OK you can be a club sport now, and we can give you a little bit of financial aid.”
The six players all displayed passion and enthusiasm for the game. They cheer each other on. They work hard for points. The team showed that it is capable of continuing a strong tradition of women’s athletics at Fordham.
“I’m definitely pushing for approval,” Patterson said. “We should have a women’s team, it’s as simple as that. Personally, I just don’t understand why there’s never been a women’s team here before, especially with the influence of Title IX.”
Title IX was introduced in 1972 and has provided countless opportunities for women to excel in sports.
Its influence over the past 40 years has been immeasurable and has brought about stars such as Mia Hamm and Lisa Leslie.
It has opened countless doors for women, including helping to create the incredibly successful U.S. women’s soccer team and the five young women on the U.S gymnastics team.
A 2011 NCAA study states that a record 193,232 women compete at the Division I level, over six times the pre-Title IX rate. Now that expansion continues, as the female student athletes of Fordham can take to the squash court.
“We’ve had about 10 or 11 women who have been to these clinics we have held,” said Patterson, explaining how the team got started. “About half of them are seniors and are going to be leaving, but that will not stop us from playing next year. We keep recruiting; we are recruiting students to come play squash next year. Hopefully, we can get a team going, and we’ll play some matches. This one was the first women’s squash match Fordham has had and it was great.”
The women lost to NYU 4-2, but that did not dampen their sprits. They were clearly happy to have the chance to play and were excited to start something new.
“A couple of them have played in high school, and a few have played a little bit of tennis,” said Patterson. “They’re reasonably good but still novices.”
Coach Patterson shows a clear commitment to making women’s squash at Fordham work. He has done a great deal of recruiting work. He plans to make a big recruiting push at next year’s club fair. He also has worked tirelessly to get the girls matches this year.
“Because we’re not an official team, they can actually do whatever they like; they can play matches outside of NCAA rules,” Patterson explained. “We’re trying to get them some matches downtown at different clubs. They want to play, they enjoy the game and they get right into it.”
The six women who competed on Sunday showed that Fordham has a female athletic tradition that is very powerful and very much alive. They will undoubtedly continue to practice and continue to try to grow women’s squash at Fordham.
“I do believe it could be a great sport here at Fordham,” Patterson said. “More and more people are playing the game. More students are playing the game just for some exercise. I think we’ll be able to build a team as the years go by. If Fordham wanted a winning team, this [squash] is where it could be. I’ve told the Athletic Department, if this university wants a top program, squash could absolutely do it.”