From Feb. 8 to 10, the Western men’s squash team competed at the White Oaks Resort and Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake to pick up yet another Ontario University Athletics championship title.
Building upon their unprecedented dynasty, the Mustangs men’s squash team brought home their 45th overall, and 36th consecutive, OUA championship win.
Helping to lead Western University to the 2018–19 title was team captain and prized veteran David Mill. Mill has been a valuable asset to the team throughout his entire university career, and this championship was no exception. He took the top position in the championship and came out undefeated — as a result, Mill was recognized as an OUA all-star for the third year in a row.
Another Mustang recognized for an exceptional season was first-year athlete Elliot Hunt, who won OUA Rookie of the Year honors. Hunt was a strong prospect when recruited by the program and has certainly proved himself this season. In seeing the momentum he has produced in his first year, it's safe to say that looking ahead, great things can be expected.
Despite the wild success of this season’s athletes, Western’s 36-year reign has spanned a variety of athletes and coaches. Every year since the 1983-84 season, Western has been able capture the OUA title. This makes the Western Mustangs the record holders for the most consecutive championship wins in any sport in the OUA. But the strong run that Western has created was not solidified without cause.
When asked about the key to sustaining long term success, Mustangs head coach Derek Moore describes how Western’s dual league participation attracts some of the highest calibre athletes in the country. Not only do Western squash athletes compete in the OUA league, but they are also given the opportunity to participate in the U.S. College Squash Association.
“[The College Squash Association] provides the highest level of college squash in the world,” said Moore. “If students want to continue at a high level of competitive squash during their university career, then Western is the best place in Canada to be able to do that.”
But Western’s highly attractive recruiting model doesn’t encompass all that Western’s team has to offer. Western has a long-standing tradition of equally talented and committed athletes and coaches who perpetuate the resonant spirit of the team.
After taking over from legendary former head coach Jack Fairs in 2016, Moore continued the program's tradition of exceptional coaching. Indicative of his hard work and continued success with the team, Moore was recognized as the OUA Men’s Coach of the Year this past weekend.
“It wasn’t me that won Coach of the Year,” said Moore. “It was the guys on the team who won it for me.”
But his humility fails to tell the whole story — the effort and passion Moore has poured into this program isn’t unnoticed, and he is very much a part of the team’s continued and future success.
Even after an extremely successful season so far, this team was not done yet. The team headed to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut from Feb. 15 to 17 to compete at the College Squash Association’s men’s national championships.
They went into the tournament ranked ninth overall in the US league and second in their division bracket. “Every team in our division is incredibly close in skill,” said Moore. “No match will be easy.”
Western ended up capturing the division two bronze. But with so many strong performances behind them from this season, they are poised and ready to take on whatever comes their way in the future.
Correction (2:12 p.m., Feb. 26): Derek Moore's name has been corrected in the article.