Head Coach Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, began her squash career playing alongside her family after being introduced to the sport at seven years old. Despite initially preferring other sports, Coach Elliott gradually increased her commitment to squash, playing both squash and field hockey collegiately at Dartmouth College.
Elliott said, “My dad and my brothers taught me how to play squash… I played a lot with my dad, and then I started taking some clinics and playing on a team there, but I was far more interested in soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse. I probably didn’t fall in love with squash until I played at Andover, and then again at college on a team. In college I played field hockey and squash and ended up my Senior year only playing squash, so by the end of college, squash was definitely my main sport.”
According to Elliott, creating a positive and open environment sticks out as one of her greatest goals for this season.
Elliott said, “I would say as their coach, I want their experience to be one of terrific growth. Both individually and as a team I think there is a lot of progress that we are going to be able to make. I really want their season to be fun and positive and that they [know they] have a cohort of peers and adults on campus who love and support them on and off the court.”
According to Saffron Agrawal ’21 and Captain Skyler Spaulding ’20, Coach Elliott prioritizes self-confidence during games and practices.
Spaulding said, “[Coach] Elliott has impacted my time on squash in a lot of ways. I think she’s definitely worked to build my confidence and that’s really important in squash because it’s a really mental game. She’s really good at making you believe in yourself and being confident in your skills and kind of hyping you up before your matches.”
Agrawal added, “I think the biggest thing that stands out to me about [Coach] Elliott is that although she wants us to improve she really truly does just want us to have fun. For example at practice the other day we starting out doing drills and just kind of your every day boast drive and volley drop and then we ended practice with offense defense.”
Coach Elliott’s positive and supportive attitude to each player makes each practice and game something the players can look forward to and learn from, according to Agrawal.
Agrawal said, “It was really nice that [Coach] Elliott was so upbeat and positive throughout [our last] tournament. No matter whether we were winning or losing, she was also very encouraging.”
Additionally, Elliott is crucial in helping her players to stay composed and focused on the court, according to Spaulding.
Spaulding said, “For me, mostly [Coach] Elliott always helps me calm down during games if I am getting too emotional about it. You can tell on the court when I am frazzled, so she always helps me calm down and pay more attention to each point and my skills instead of the outcome.
She always emphasizes being a good sport and a good competitor and not letting your emotions get the best of you, not being a brat on the court, she says that a lot.”
Elliott hopes to communicate to her players is the meaning behind the team’s motto of “Deserve to Win,” as well as the importance of sportsmanship.
Coach Elliott said, “Our motto from the old building that we have moved to this one is ‘Deserve to Win,’ and that I think speaks to an athlete’s integrity: respect for themselves, respect for their opponent, respect for the game and the rules. And that includes obviously playing with fairness and sportsmanship, it also includes playing with intensity and a relentlessness in terms of just a level of ethic and work ethic, I think that’s really important.”
She continued, “We also talk a lot about being a member of the team, and supporting each other on and off the court, and that often athletes are able to compete more successfully when they are concerned about the team’s outcome above and beyond their own individual outcome.”