Andover Girls Squash Head Coach Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, was introduced to squash by her father around the age of seven or eight and grew up playing with her friends and siblings in Rye, N.Y. She went on to play squash and field hockey at Dartmouth College, where she developed a passion for the team aspect of squash.
After college, Coach Elliott pursued a coaching opportunity at Westminster prior to coming to Andover.
“I coached the varsity girls team at Westminster. Then my husband and I moved all over the country, but where we were, there weren’t many coaching opportunities for squash. I came back to Andover and had the opportunity to teach history, but the idea of coaching squash was also a huge draw. I was really excited to have the chance to do it,” said Coach Elliott.
According to Coach Elliott, she has always loved squash as a team sport rather than as an individual one.
“It surprised me how much I ended up loving [squash] because of the team dynamic. I didn’t love the solo tournament as much, but I felt like, as a player, I was always able to play better if I was thinking about my team and what my team needed and how they were doing. If I was just thinking about myself, I would get too in my head and panic,” said Coach Elliott.
Coach Elliott says that coaching is one of her favorite parts of life at Andover because the team is always so special to her. As a player during her time at Andover, Coach Elliott valued the team dynamic, and she now focuses on fostering strong bonds and a team mentality as a coach.
“From a coach’s perspective, it’s really fun to watch each of my individual players improve and grow up so much, and I get to see the rapport of our team every single year start to take on its own life. I feel like so much of my role is trying to nurture the team aspect of it. It was such an important part of my life as a player,” said Coach Elliott.
“I think my players play for more of a love for the game when its about their team instead of just themselves. One of my highest priorities has always been ‘how do you take this individual sport and draw out all of the best part of being on the team?’ ” continued Coach Elliott.
According to her players, Coach Elliott trains the team with high intensity when preparing for matches. She balances fitness and on-court drills in order to better the team, according to Skyler Spaulding ’20.
Spaulding said, “Coach Elliott is very into fitness. She works us hard on and off the court. Everyday we train so that we can have that physical advantage against our opponents. Even though squash is very much a game of physical ability, it is also one of mental strength. Coach Elliott always prepares us by giving us a boost of support before each match and lets us know that she believes in us.”
“Her philosophy is that every member of the team should try their hardest. Due to this method, we are prepared for matches because we have improved the most we can during each and every practice,” said Lindsay Westerfield ’21.
Coach Elliott also plays an impactful role in the everyday lives of the members of her squash team, according to Spaulding and Westerfield.
“Coach Elliott has always been more than a coach to [me and] my teammates. Not only does she teach us how to be better squash players, but she always helps us navigate our lives here. She always gives great advice, and I know that she will be there for any of us if we need it,” said Spaulding.
Westerfield said, “As a coach, she is able to bring the team together with her enthusiasm at practice everyday. She is really great at encouraging us to try our hardest and fosters our love for squash with her kindness. Coach Elliott has taught me to work my hardest to become the best person I can be both on and off the court. She always finds ways to encourage me to run faster and play harder and also finds ways to make practices incredibly fun.”
According to Coach Elliott, she is very excited for the completion of the Snyder Center, which will be the team’s new home after it is finished in January.
“The Snyder Center will make our practices, our matches, and our tournaments so much more special, and it will feel like a more cohesive program. It will be way easier to have to entire girls and boys programs to gather at the same time and be able to watch excellent squash and think about squash as a whole program, which is awesome,” said Coach Elliott.
Now in her eighth year with the team, Coach Elliott looks forward to a strong season.
“If we can keep everyone healthy, this is our strongest team that we’ve had since I’ve been here. We have a number of players that are coming in with a bunch of experience, and the addition of our new players coupled with the experienced returning players has made a chemistry on the team. I’ve been so impressed with the level of work ethic and sense of team commitment,” said Coach Elliott.