After many failed attempts, the sports world says, “Great players don’t make great coaches.” Gilly Lane of Penn men’s squash begs to differ.
The former assistant coach of Penn squash began a new chapter as associate head coach to Jack Wyant following his promotion in July. Shortly thereafter, he journeyed to Toronto with Team USA as a coach for the Pan-American Games.
He enters his fourth year with the program, having been on board since July 2013, in addition to a one-year stint during the 2010-11 season.
Lane shared his enthusiasm for his new role with the new season nearly underway.
“It’s great when people here recognize you, want to keep you and want you to be here,” Lane said.
“The program means everything in the world to me, having played here and having gotten so much from this experience. It was a great honor, especially only after two years of being here, but a big thanks to Jack and [Athletic Director Grace] Calhoun.”
A quick snapshot into Lane’s playing career reveals quite a handful of accolades. As a player for the Quakers, he secured Team MVP, All-Ivy and even All-American honors during each of his four years as an undergrad. Since going pro, he has claimed three Professional Squash Association titles, been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2007 and held a world ranking as high as No. 48.
Lane believes this incredible exposure as one of the world’s foremost players equally benefits him as a coach.
“I think the experiences and travel I had as a player really allow me to know the different situations the kids are in,” Lane said. “Having played here, I understand the academic requirements that the student-athletes are put under, so I think I have a good grasp of what they are doing on a daily basis.
“In terms of squash, I think that those experiences, playing at the world level, being around the best players in the game and seeing what they do on a daily basis, has helped me as a coach tremendously.”
His coaching resume certainly holds weight, as Lane spent much of the summer as head men’s squash coach for Team USA. His tenure with Team USA reached its climax in July during the Pan-American Games in Canada.
Lane described the spectacle as “the best feeling I have ever had as an athlete or coach.
"For me, representing your country is the highest honor. When you wear the red, white and blue, there’s nothing better,” he continued.
There truly is nothing better, as these games represented the best-ever performance for USA Squash in terms of medals, with six overall. Lane helped guide the men to bronze in team competition, as well as in the doubles.
Lane hopes to utilize this unrivaled opportunity from the world stage to improve his own coaching, as well as the professionalism of the program back in University City.
“I want to try to bring as much of that experience back to here to try to make it as world class as it was in Toronto. At Penn, we want to give the student-athletes what they deserve, which is a great education, highly competitive athletics and an environment where they can succeed in both,” he said.
While the women came off an undefeated Ivy season last year, going 14-3 overall, the men’s side is looking to improve on last year’s result. In 2014-15, the team struggled in Ivy play, finishing 3-4 in conference and 9-8 overall.
Hopeful for the upcoming season, Lane places a lot of confidence in his squad.
“They work hard on the courts and in the classrooms, they really respect each other, and they want to go out and win for each other. I’m just honored to be a part of that, and the culture around here is fantastic. And we are all striving to be great."
And if his team wants to see greatness in squash personified, it won't have to look far.
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