All you have to do is look at Vassar’s new squash coach David Ames’s right forearm to understand his commitment to the game of squash.
“I got this tattoo about a year ago,” Ames said, pointing to the squash racket on his arm. “I watched this movie called ‘Chef,’ and the guy had a chef’s knife tattooed on his arm. And I saw that, and I was like, he’s a chef, and he has a chef’s knife. Well, I love squash. And it just clicked in my brain.”
After nearly 20 years of coaching experience at Bard, 10 years as an assistant coach and 10 years as the head coach for the Raptors, Ames has been hired this year as an interim head coach for the Brewers.
“Squash was the first sport that I ever played that I really clicked with,” Ames said. “I love the combination of the mental and physical challenge. You can’t be just a really good athlete and a good squash player. If you don’t think on the court, it doesn’t matter how fit you are or how well you hit the ball, you’re not going to play well. And you can’t just be smart. You have to have that drive to just run and run and run, and to not give up and to not quit because you hit a bad shot. I love that combination.”
Ames will be replacing 16-year Head Coach Jane Parker, who left Vassar midway through this semester to accept a position at SquashSmarts in Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that introduces inner-city students to the game and keeps them on track for graduation. Ames admits that replacing Parker, whom he has known through the entirety of her tenure at Vassar, will be an adjustment.
However, he has big plans to continue to move the team in a positive direction. “I’m hoping over time to put substantial effort and emphasis into recruiting, and bringing in players with more experience,” Ames said. “I really want to expand the schedule and have the teams playing more matches per semester per year, because there is no substitute for competition. The more matches the teams play, the better they play.”
With a talented freshman class on both the men’s and women’s teams, Ames believes that this year’s team will be a step up from last year’s. “I believe Vassar can eventually be amongst the best teams in the country,” Ames said. “The support for the Athletic Department is tremendous and so is the reputation for the school. However, you’re not going to be able to steal players from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Trinity and St. Lawrence to come here now, because it’s not enough of a draw. So it has to be progressive.” For right now, however, Ames is focusing on this season and he is excited for the opportunity to finally be a full-time squash coach. “I always felt Vassar was like my second home because we played here so often,” Ames said. “Vassar has always amazed me when I’ve brought teams here because there is always a good group of supporters to watch the team. May not be 100 people, but there is always six, or eight, or 10 or 20 people in the stands cheering on the team. I’ve been to a lot of schools with other teams and there is nobody there to watch. So for Vassar, I think the support is great.”
After over 40 years in the game, Ames said that his passion for squash has never changed, once again pointing to his forearm.
“This tattoo keeps me motivated to play because I can’t have a squash racket on my arm and not be a good player,” Ames said. “It also just reminds me how much I love the game, you know, on a constant basis. I could be out doing something else and I’ll look at my arm and be like, ‘Yeah, I get to go play squash later, that’s so cool, I love playing squash.’ And I do.”