You can’t say it was an ordinary offseason for Penn squash.
In a move that showed great faith in the Quakers’ coaching staff, it was announced that both Jack Wyant and Gilly Lane would be getting promotions in the Penn squash program.
Lane would be promoted from associate head coach to men’s head coach, while Wyant was promoted to the new Director of Squash position while retaining the title of women’s head coach.
“Jack Wyant has been a tremendous asset for many years while overseeing both the men’s and women’s programs,” Penn athletic director Grace Calhoun said at the time. “Retaining him as our Director of Squash and Head Women’s Coach ensures that we have an experienced leader guiding our student-athletes. Gilly Lane’s passion for and loyalty to Penn made him the ideal candidate for Head Men’s Coach. ... It is an exciting time for Penn squash.”
For Lane, the promotion marks a new step in his relationship to the program. The Philadelphia native graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences after serving as a member of the men’s team from 2004-07, captaining the team as a junior and senior while earning team MVP, All-Ivy and All-American honors all four years in University City.
After returning to Penn as an assistant head coach in 2013, he was subsequently promoted to associate head coach in 2015. The newest promotion now brings his journey with the Quakers full-circle.
“This is my favorite place in the world,” Lane said. “I pretty much made that known since I was a sophomore in college, that I just absolutely love being a part of Penn squash. I’ve been very fortunate because of Penn squash to meet people from all over and have support pretty much wherever I’ve gone. ... This place is like home to me, and it’s a blessing to be in this role.”
Wyant, who will relinquish the reins to the men’s side to Lane for the new season, had nothing but praise for Lane and expressed full confidence in his ability to lead the squad.
“Having known him since he was 20 years old, it’s easy to recognize when someone is going to be successful in this business,” he said. “The choice was we either find a home for him here, or he’s going to go somewhere else and beat us or make it damn hard for us to win. Obviously, Gilly being a Philly guy and a Penn person, I think it was an easy sell for him once we approached him with the idea.”
Wyant, who has been with Penn squash since 2004 when he was hired as women’s head coach, will remain the head coach of the women’s team while overlooking the program as a whole in the newly created Director of Squash role. The new coaching structure will allow the staff to remedy what they felt was an imbalance of attention given between the men’s and women’s sides.
“One of the disadvantages of the previous coaching structure that I always thought we could improve upon was that there would be matches where because of how competitive each match would be, there would be times where the coaching staff would focus on one team versus the other,” said Wyant. “And that bothered me. Here we got 30 student-athletes, both teams are working really hard, why are we favoring one versus the other in a competitive situation?
The new system will also show how Lane and Wyant differ as coaches; the older Wyant tends to have a more reserved approach to coaching while the younger Lane has a knack for being fiery and expressive.
“I’ve learned from Jack to be patient in situations where I wouldn’t normally be patient,” revealed Lane. “Last year as associate head coach, I was kind of taking notes on different situations about how I should react. When I played I was definitely a very high energy guy and I think I coach that way as well. What I’ve learned from Jack is that sometimes you need to ease off that.”
In another significant change to the Penn coaching structure, the Red and Blue also brought Emery Maine Greenwood to the program as an assistant coach, working with both the men’s and the women’s sides.
Greenwood spent her college years playing squash and women’s lacrosse for rival Princeton, graduating in 2010 and winning two national titles for the Tigers in 2008 and 2009. Greenwood comes to Penn after taking a brief break from squash, working in the finance industry in New York for a time before returning to the sport to coach against her alma mater.
“In addition to being a competitor and someone who knows the game well, she’s already demonstrated that she relates well to both teams. The feedback that I’ve received is overwhelmingly positive from the student-athletes,” said Wyant of Greenwood. “Knowing what is involved in college athletics, the skill-set that is required to be a good college coach isn’t just X’s and O’s. There’s more to it than that. There’s a lot of skills that I think she acquired after her time in college that I think will help going forward for us.”
Despite the momentous changes for the structure of Penn squash, the goal of establishing and keeping a winning tradition at Penn will always remain the same. As the dawn of the season approaches, watch for the Quakers to maximize their potential in a newly transformed program.