Laila Samy, a Wesleyan University senior, has won the 2018 College Squash Association (CSA) Betty Richey Award—the most prestigious women’s individual honor bestowed by the organization.
The Richey Award is given annually to the women’s college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love of and devotion to the game, her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership. Betty Richey was a graduate of Radcliffe College, and a standout athlete who was named to the United States women’s lacrosse and field hockey teams multiple times. She began coaching and teaching physical education at Vassar in 1937, and over the next thirty years she launched varsity teams in women’s squash, men’s squash, field hockey, men’s tennis, and women’s tennis. Toward the end of her career she focused more of her attention on squash and was one of the founders of the women’s individual national tournament in 1965.
Samy amassed a dominant 80-1 regular season record in her career at Wesleyan, and was named a First Team All-American each of her first three years (2018 All-American status is granted after the season). She was a 2016 college individual semifinalist, and has continued to improve throughout her college career despite not competing regularly against the top-ranked teams. “Laila is one of the most talented players in college squash,” says Wesleyan head coach Shona Kerr, “[she] is a fan favorite to watch play with her incredible shot-making ability and lightning quick movement to the front of the court.”
The 2018 award represents the second consecutive year where the awardee has played for a team ranked outside of the top several programs. “To be exposed to such talent and composure on court is a treat normally reserved for those competing in the A division [Howe Cup],” remarks Kerr. Samy projects her abilities outward, however, acting as a de facto coach for teammates and as an ambassador for the college game.
Samy plans to pursue a professional career in squash after graduating from Wesleyan in the spring of 2018.