2/02/2009 Stephen Peed

Squash Program Entering a New Era

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According to Marketwatch.com, Lancaster is the top spot for finding retirement employment in the Northeast. John White, the world’s former No. 1 squash player, is talking advantage of that fact.

White, 35, is not your typical retiree. He is working harder than ever as F&M’s director of squash and head coach of the men’s and women’s teams. Chasing his charges in blue and white is only half of the task. The Aussie-born Scottish national also is running down four children of his own.

“Being a full-time coach and dad is a lot harder than being a professional squash player,” White says. “I didn’t know what to expect the first season. It was hit and miss all year, but the rewards were obvious, both professionally and personally.”

White recounts his cannonball introduction to paperwork, recruiting and being in charge of a group. “It was nerve-wracking to have a whole team to take care of,” White says. “On the professional tour, you handle your own travel arrangements and you have only yourself to worry about.”

For the 10 months of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) season, life is a never-ending series of planes, trains and automobiles. “For the first two or three years it is brilliant,” White says. “The travel, the new places, the sponsor’s dinners—the whole experience is awesome at the outset.”

White, who was one of the tour’s most popular players and a fan favorite around the world, played on every continent in just about every venue one can imagine.

While White still had plenty of good squash left in him, he no longer wanted to endure the schedule. “After years of the routine, there are only so many more flights you want to get on to, so many delays you can sit through,” White says. “A five-star hotel is the same as a one-star hotel when you just sleep there.”

White hung up his racquet this past summer. During his career, he earned 12 PSA tour titles. He broke into the top 20 in the world rankings in 1998 and climbed his way to No. 1 in the world in March 2004. He was ranked in the world’s top 10 for 76 months and remained ranked in the top 20 for the final 112 months of his career.

While most people think of 401k plans and IRAs when they think about retirement planning, White was focused on finding full-time work. In August 2007, F&M President John Fry heard that White, a resident of Exton, Pa., was on the job market.

It didn’t take long for Fry and White to discover they were on the same page. “Finding this was kind of lucky,” White says. “I came knocking on his door at the same time he came knocking on mine.” White signed on less than two weeks after the initial contact.

Now in his second season, White has found his groove. He has helped attract a transfer to occupy the men’s top position and a first-year for the women’s top spot.

He has found in his new schedule more time for his kids and wife, Suzie, to his liking. “For the first time since becoming a family, a family life can be planned,” White says. “There is an official start and definitive end to the college squash season. I can make plans to take vacations, and we can basically be a normal household for the first time.”

The Whites are looking for a house in Lancaster. While the retiree is far from his golden years, there is reason to believe the Diplomats’ next golden era of squash is right around the corner.
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