Penn squash player balances squash and singing

Sophomore Derek Chilvers finds the balance between squash and singing

· February 1, 2012, 11:17 pm   ·  Updated February 2, 2012, 10:28 pm

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Sophomore Derek Chilvers has emerged as a key player for the Quakers in his first season playing collegiate squash, leading the team with four wins. He also sings in the pop-rock a cappella group Off the Beat.


It always seems to be showtime for Derek Chilvers.

In his first year on the men’s squash team and his second year as a member of Off the Beat, Penn’s premier pop-rock a cappella group, Chilvers continues to perform under pressure.

“[Nerves] depend on the match,” Chilvers said. “It’s pretty nerve-wracking before concerts because there’s a variety of things that could go wrong, whereas with squash, things are pretty consistent.”

But once his performances on the court and the stage begin, Chilvers lets the rhythm take over. In his rookie season with the squash team, he is tied for first in wins with four, and has been a key factor in the Quakers’ success at the bottom of the ladder. For Off the Beat, he edits arrangements in his position of assistant musical director.

“He’s a very musical person, he has perfect pitch,” Off the Beat President Hannah Platt said. “He’s an incredibly talented musician and the type of person that will feel bad when he lets you down.”

He has yet to let down men’s squash coach Jack Wyant.

Chilvers was initially recruited to play squash his freshman year, but Wyant gave him an ultimatum: a cappella or squash.

“Because I was not allowed to do both, I chose a cappella,” Chilvers said. “It was an extremely difficult choice because I didn’t anticipate the possibility of being asked back. I figured after the choice, that whatever I chose would be what I did for the next four years of college, which would greatly affect my life.

“I was kind of drawn in by the prestige of Off the Beat, and I had a lot of close friends in the group, so I ended up leaning toward that.”

As a freshman, Chilvers focused on his singing talent, scoring a rare freshman solo spot and establishing himself as one of the group’s top members.

“But then [the squash team] asked me to play this year,” Chilvers said.

And so his balancing act between squash and singing began.

“He’s been a great addition, he’s earning the respect of his coaches and captains,” Wyant said. “He’s taking a heavy load in terms of courses and Off the Beat and it’s an impressive feat, what he’s doing. It’s a serious time commitment to play our sport.”

Chilvers has balanced his athletic and singing commitments so well that they are beginning to blend together. After competing at Trinity with the squash team Saturday afternoon, he found himself singing the national anthem at the Palestra Monday night for the men’s basketball clash with Princeton.

“It was pretty fun,” Chilvers said. “We rushed down onto the court, sang the anthem, got rushed off.”

Though the performances never seem to stop for Chilvers, he has yet to hit a sour note.

“When it’s time for him to step up, he really steps up,” Platt said.

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