Thursday, September 21, 2023

Remembering Bob Hanscom, all-round nice guy and the godfather of squash in Los Angeles

By DAVID JUNG (Squash Mad Correspondent)

Bob Hanscom, widely considered the godfather of international squash in Los Angeles, passed away peacefully on May 31, 2022. Bob spent his life creating communities for all people to discover and enjoy the game of squash, extolling its wonderful benefits for health and life.

Throughout his life, he was a coach, a commissioner, a referee, a judge, a teacher, and a friend to so many people all over the country.

Bob’s remarkable career in sports and physical education spanned five decades. He studied physical education and business management at Salem State University and obtained an advanced degree in bio-mechanical analysis from German Sport University Cologne.

Bob began his professional career in the 1970s as the first Director of Physical Education at the YMCA in Marblehead, MA where he developed a youth gymnastics program.

His success there led him back to Salem, MA where he opened the North Shore School of Gymnastics (NSSG) and Elite Gymnastic Training Center, and then to Milford, Connecticut to pursue Olympic glory at the American Gold Elite Gymnastic Training Center where he trained the Women’s United States Olympic Gymnastics Team.

Legendary Olympic coach Béla Károlyi once offered him a job at his national gymnastic training center in Houston. However, it was during this time that Bob discovered his true love — the game of squash.

On March 1, 1986, Bob officially began his career as a squash professional which led to positions at the South Bay Squash Club, the University Club of Los Angeles and then the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where he served from 1993 until 2008.

During his tenure at the LAAC, he introduced hundreds of people to the game, ushered the construction of official international 21-foot wide squash courts, and brought in players from all around Los Angeles and Southern California.

He promoted and hosted dozens of professional tournaments, including one on an all-glass portable court on the stage at Macy’s Mall in downtown LA, as well as the “Clash of the Female Titans,” which featured the four top women players in the world, all of whom were current or former world #1 and world champion.

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Just as he was during his time in skating and gymnastics, Bob was a major supporter of female professionals, especially in squash. But his last career accomplishment would be for children.

When Bob stepped down from the Los Angeles Athletic Club, he enjoyed his “retirement” by building an entirely new squash facility in South Pasadena and established an enormously successful junior program at what is now the LA Squash Academy.

Bob spent his last years there, happily guiding his young staff and the hundreds of enthusiastic kids who filled the courts. He would hop on a court with anyone to share a tip or give some praise and encouragement. He loved most to see children learn the game and was genuinely proud of all of their accomplishments, especially off the court and as they grew into young adults.

It can be said with surety that no one loved or believed in the game of squash like Bob Hanscom or did as much to grow the game in Los Angeles, Southern California or even all of California.

Even the day before he passed, Bob was still sending letters to squash parents reminding them to trust their children’s maturity and intelligence; “to stay with the basics, never compromising on technique and as much as possible, use “progression” as a teaching/coaching methodology, e.g…”science” if you may!”

Bob’s legacy will endure, and it is certain that there will never be anyone like him to grace the sport of squash. He will always be appreciated and warmly remembered, especially by young players who he has inspired to a lifetime enjoying the sport he loved so much.

Memorial Service

A memorial service is taking place tomorrow, Saturday July 9, 2022, at 12:00 noon at Cabot and Sons Funeral Home, 27 Chestnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91103.

Pictures courtesy of David Jung and Stephanie Rigolot from SOCAL SQUASH: Website link here 


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