Thursday, May 30, 2024

Cassie’s Corner: The unsung heroes of junior squash

Parent power keeps the game going

Cassie Thomas byline

All our yesterdays on Facebook
Juniors from yesteryear, but how many players can you recognise?

Recently I attended a junior tournament in Melbourne. It was no different from any other junior tournament around the world. Children buzzing around and jumping on any available court. Parents chatting and enjoying watching their sons and daughters compete.

Being there got me thinking. Firstly about my junior days and also how much the parents put into the game.

Ask any senior player about their junior days and I am sure their reply would be one of enjoyment and friendship.

Weekends away, competing on court and hanging out with friends off court. This was certainly the case for me. I have nothing but fantastic memories from my junior days and friends I made 30 years ago I am lucky to still have today.

Talking of memories as I write this Claire Walker (nee Fleetwood), who I used to compete against in juniors, has just posted on Facebook a photo (above) of a junior presentation many years ago. Great seeing all the old faces, but the dodgy hairstyles and clothes are probably something I don’t want to remember!

Well, it wasn’t until I finished my junior career and started playing on the professional tour that I think I fully appreciated those days. Though I felt pressure when I was a junior once I turned professional the pressure seemed to be of a different kind.

Ranking points and prize money probably had something to do with it! Nowadays I try to get across to juniors to enjoy themselves but work hard. So when they leave those junior days behind them they will have fantastic memories and some great results too.

So where would the junior and senior players for that matter be without their parents? Nowadays, when parents are written about in squash, or in any sport, it can sometimes be in a negative way.

But for one overzealous parent there are many many more who tirelessly drive their children to coaching sessions, league matches and tournaments. Who encourage them to do their best and support them win or lose.

They are the ones who should be written about. I know without my parents’ support and those endless car journeys around the country (Norfolk seemed to be a long way from everywhere!) I would never have achieved what I did.

Now, as a Mum, the roles have been reversed and I am now driving my daughters to various activities. It was only the other day when driving home from swimming that I said to them now I know how my Mum felt. Though, you know, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

So please join me in expressing our thanks and appreciation to the parents, who for me are the unsung heroes of the game.

Pictures from the Squash Mad archive 

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