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A Week with the Wolf
A.J. Kohlhepp

Three-time world champion Nick Matthew, known on tour as "The Wolf," signed an agreement in summer 2018 to serve as Berkshire School's squash ambassador for a three-year term. This entry chronicles his first campus visit in the 2018-9 squash season. 

Seeing Pink & Getting Preppy 

Nick arrived on campus on Saturday evening, in time for a quick bite in the dining hall and a front-row seat for the Pink Out game. Although Berkshire came up short that night, Nick was impressed with the clear commitment to teamwork by boys' varsity hockey and the great school spirit on display in the Stewart rink. 

The next day, Nick and the varsity coaches hosted four middle-school for a Pre-Prep Squash Showdown. Athletes from Fessenden, Indian Mountain, Bement and Eaglebrook (see photo) battled all day long, taking a break for lunch with The Wolf and student-led campus mini-tours.

That same afternoon, Nick held a planning session with the girls varsity team, fresh off a victory against Canterbury, and a first practice with boys varsity, who had taken Saturday off with that opportunity in mind.

The Wolf Goes to School   

Monday provided Nick an opportunity to address the entire school community at all-school meeting. In his lecture on "Taking Control of Your Life," Nick pushed the students & faculty to become their own CEOs, to clarify their own core values, and to work on turning strengths into super strengths.  

After that presentation, Nick sat in with Dr. K.'s Creative Writing class, regaling the aspiring authors with tales from the pro tour and revealing his own writing process. Students looked at a chapter of Nick's memoir Sweating Blood and, using the Wolf's words as an exemplar text, drafted accounts of themselves in pursuit of excellence. 

Training with the Teams

Nick spent the next four afternoons working with various Berkshire squash teams. Although he focused on the varsity teams, Nick also offered some pointers and stepped on court to demonstrate to the j.v. and thirds squads.

One unique step he demonstrated was leading the teams to generate collective goals for the season. (Nick's strong penmanship was in evidence in various colors at the back glass of many courts.) He also modeled thoughtful, reflective training, rather than just "bashing and dashing," integrating performance analysis worksheets and strength-and-weakness assessments for players to generate and revisit individual goals and strategies. 

Collaborating with head coaches Perkins and Kohlhepp to design practice sessions, Nick counseled Bears on everything from proper warm-up and cool-down protocols to the intricacies of the back-hand volley. He was also able to provide match feedback to girls varsity during their challenge match session and to boys varsity during their double-header at Westminster School. (Needless to say, it was pretty cool to walk into the Martletts' pavilion with The Wolf in tow.) Those topics and tips will provide the basis for subsequent visits in January and February.

Wolf + Bears, cont.: The Road Ahead 

Nick will keep an eye out for prospective Bears when he attends the British Junior Open in January. Back in the U.S., Nick will co-host a Berkshire Squash reception at the Tournament of Champions on Sunday, January 20. He will then return to campus to work with teams before conducting a meet and greet at the Middle School Nationals at Yale (January 25). Rounding out the squash season, Nick will be back in (our) Sheffield in late February to support the teams' preparations for the New England Interscholastic Squash Association championships.

This summer will see Nick back on campus for the second year of Nick Matthew Academy, featuring guest coaches Wael El Hindi and Danny & Laura Massaro. Camp details available at www.futuresquashstars.com.

 

@berkshiresquash