On the heels of one of the best all-around seasons in Penn squash history, the Quakers are doing everything they can to maintain their success from 2015-16.
And it starts at the top.
Penn Athletics announced on Tuesday that Jack Wyant — who has overseen both the men’s and women’s squads for the past six seasons — has been promoted to the program’s director of squash. While Wyant will continue to coach the Red and Blue’s women’s side, former associate head coach Gilly Lane will now take charge of the men’s team.
“The Penn squash programs have seen much success in recent seasons and we are excited to keep both programs moving in a positive direction,” Athletic Director Grace Calhoun said in a press release. “Promoting Jack Wyant and Gilly Lane was an important step in that process.
“Jack Wyant has been a tremendous asset for many years while overseeing both the men’s and women’s programs,” she added. “Retaining him as our director of squash and head women’s coach ensures that we have an experienced leader guiding our student-athletes.”
Wyant has been with the Red and Blue since 2004, winning two Ivy League titles as boss of the women’s team in 2007 and 2015. The 2009 US Squash National Coach of the Year, Wyant jointly coached both of Penn’s teams for six seasons, helping the men’s side finish fifth at the CSA Team Championships at the end of 2016 while the women lost a nail-biter in the National Championship match.
“The Penn squash program enjoyed a banner year, and I am privileged to continue in a leadership role with the program,” he noted. “Our goal is to work diligently to further enhance the development of our talented student-athletes and strive towards winning more championships for the Red and Blue.”
The Cincinnati native has gone 146-42 while at the helm of Penn’s women’s squad, helping guide the Quakers to the CSA National Championship match three times. According to Wyant, Tuesday’s developments were the product of a plan put in place nearly two years ago, one that always centered around elevating Lane.
“I think it was a collaborative effort,” he said. “I had some advice from some mentors who were Penn alums, and when we took the plan to [Calhoun], she was on board with it.
“I look at it as an opportunity to continue to have the best coaching staff in college squash.”
For Lane, this represents the second consecutive offseason in which the former Penn player has been promoted. A four-time All-American from his days with the Quakers, Lane was named associate head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams following the 2014-15 season.
“I am extremely honored and excited to begin this next phase of my coaching career as the head men’s coach,” he said in a statement. “This is a dream position for me as this program has been my second home since 2003. I want to thank Dr. Grace Calhoun, Jack Wyant, Matt Valenti, the Penn squash board members and alumni for putting their trust in me to lead an amazing group of talented student-athletes.”
“It’s an exciting time for Penn squash,” Calhoun noted. “Gilly Lane’s passion for and loyalty to Penn made him the ideal candidate for head men’s coach. We believe that the men’s squash program will flourish under Gilly’s tutelage."
Since Lane became an assistant with the Quakers in 2013, the team’s ranking has continually improved, peaking at No. 5 in 2016. Last season was highlighted by the Red and Blue’s upsets over No. 4 Rochester and No. 3 St. Lawrence on back-to-back days, as well as the squad’s first win over Harvard since 1979.
“Gilly’s ready to assume the head role,” Wyant said. “I’ve known him since he was a sophomore at Penn and he is the perfect coach to lead the men’s program. I look forward to working together for many more years.
“I wouldn’t have put this plan in place if I didn’t feel like he was able to continue what we’ve started.”
Although Lane will be the men’s team’s go-to person on a daily basis, Wyant will remain heavily involved with both of the program’s squads. Additionally, throughout the course of matches, Wyant and Lane, along with assistant Richard Dodd, will converge to guide whichever side is on the court.
“It’s essential that while the titles have changed and Gilly’s focus will shift primarily to the men, we need to leverage the entire coaching staff to help both teams when matches are happening,” Wyant said.
And although it may be somewhat different from what Penn has become accustomed to in recent years, the coaches are confident the new structure will pay dividends.
“I think this is the best model going forward,” Wyant said. “The coaching model in college squash has changed considerably since I played in the 1990s, and one of the things that I’ve tried to do and have had the full support of the administration to do is to continue to think how we can best serve the needs of our student-athletes going forward.”
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