You know the Penn women's squash team is good. Or maybe you don't. You know the Penn women's squash team won the national championship last year. Or maybe you don't. But even if you say you know, I'd be willing to bet a Super Bowl-sized chunk of change that you don't really know. We're talking champions here. National Champions. The equivalent of the Michigan State men's basketball team. Or the Oklahoma football team. Think about it. If you were at Michigan State or Oklahoma, you'd probably be a regular at Spartans and Sooners games (if you could get tickets before they sell out). But I'll go double or nothing and say you've never been to a Penn women's squash meet. The largest crowd Holleran can recall at the Ringe Squash Courts is just a couple hundred. And those couple hundred people were exclusively alumni, family and friends. That's not a surprise to squash players, however. "It's not exactly a spectator sport like basketball or baseball," Penn senior Rina Borromeo said. But it's not like squash is spectator-unfriendly. The setting is intimate. The play is fast and furious. And matches usually last no more than an hour. "All of my friends who have never seen the sport before, when they come, they get really psyched about the sport," Borromeo said. The problem, however, isn't really getting people to like the sport once they've witnessed it -- squash's worldwide popularity demonstrates that at least some people get it -- but not enough people here at Penn give it that first chance. You should give it that chance. Why? Because this team is so good. You can experience squash for the first time while watching a dominating team, a team like the mid-90s Chicago Bulls. Well, maybe that's an overstatement, but we're talking Lakers not Clippers, Ravens not Browns, White Sox not Cubs. I can't stress this enough. The Penn women's squash team won a national championship last year. And last year wasn't a fluke. The Quakers aren't one-hit wonders. They aren't the Baha Men. Maybe Penn won't repeat, but these aren't exactly lean times for the Quakers. "Worst-case scenario, we'll be fourth in the nation," Penn coach Demer Holleran said. Fourth place? At worst? Wow. We're talking about a women's squash equivalent of the late-80s Miami Hurricanes. We're talking about a team that's significantly better, relative to its competition, than any other team at Penn. Yeah, the wrestling and fencing teams are good, but they aren't national championship-caliber. And yeah, the sprint football squad won the CSFL title last year -- but that's a five-team league. It's the women's squash program that truly stands out. Like Randy Moss at Marshall. Or Jerry Rice at Mississippi Valley State. But sadly, Penn's squash success has not translated into anything more than a passing notice here on campus. Maybe you've read an article or two about the Quakers' women's squash team. Maybe sophomore No. 1 player Runa Reta is in one of your lecture classes. Maybe you've congratulated freshman No. 2 player Dafna Wegner on a recent victory. But I'll go out on a limb with another wager here -- you have no idea where the Ringe Squash Courts are (they're behind Hutchinson Gymnasium). I know, I know. Maybe you're a die-hard, face-painting, sign-making men's basketball fan. But last I checked, the Penn men's basketball team was just 5-10. And while most would still bet that the Quakers will once again win the Ivies, let's face it, they won't be NCAA champions. They won't be the women's squash team. "Our basketball team could be 0-22 and they'll still get more attention than us," Holleran said. And that's fine. That's expected. Holleran and company aren't hoping for sell-out crowds. But a national championship squad should expect at least a smattering of support from the average Penn student. The Penn women's squash team plays its next home match against Harvard on February 10. If you aren't attending the men's basketball game at Dartmouth that day, maybe you should head down to the squash courts to watch the women's squash team. After all, they are national champions.Comments powered by Disqus
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