The College Squash Association (CSA) has announced the finalists for the Skillman Award—the most prestigious annual individual honor bestowed to a senior men’s squash student-athlete by the CSA. The finalists for the 2020 Skillman Award are Saadeldin Abouaish from Harvard University, Kush Kumar from Trinity College, and Spencer Lovejoy from Yale University.
The Skillman Award is given annually to a senior men’s squash player who has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship during his entire college career. The nominees were evaluated in the following areas:
- On-court poise and demeanor
- Skill level and ability in the game of squash
- Team play
- Contributions to intercollegiate squash
- Cooperation with players, coaches, and tournament officials
Nominees for the award are submitted by the coaches of varsity men’s teams. The winner of the award is determined by a vote of coaches.
The 2020 Skillman Award honoree will be presented with the award on Saturday at Harvard University prior to the national semifinal matches at approximately 3:15 p.m. in front of Court 6.
This year, the Skillman Award will be presented by the Schiller Family Foundation in honor of Dr. Sheldon Schiller. Dr. Schiller believed that genuine sportsmanship and leadership were just as important in squash as athletic ability, and he lived those virtues when he played. It is said that Dr. Schiller once called his own ball “down” in a championship match because “he didn’t know any other way to play”.
Finalists are listed in alphabetical order:
Saadeldin Abouaish, Harvard University
Saadeldin Abouaish is part of the senior class at Harvard that has led to its resurgence as a college squash powerhouse. During his first two years on campus, Abouaish played in the number 1 position on the ladder, leading by example the whole way, ultimately earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. In his sophomore campaign, he made a run to the Individual National Championship semifinals, falling to fellow 2020 Skillman finalist Kush Kumar. Despite dropping out of the top spot in the ladder, Abouaish has maintained a perfect regular season record, helping to guide the Crimson to two straight Ivy League titles, the 2019 National Championship, and the top seed in this year’s tournament.
Abouaish’s sportsmanship is recognized by coaches throughout the CSA, but the Harvard coaches have the privilege of seeing him on court every day. “Saad has displayed exemplary sportsmanship throughout his career. He has played as high as #1 on our team. Saad has a been a wonderful player to coach and a great teammate, exemplified by him being voted a tri-captain for his senior year by his peers.”
Kush Kumar, Trinity College
Kush Kumar has been an exemplary sportsman and player since he stepped on campus at Trinity four years ago. The latest in a long line of successful Bantam players, Kumar impressed from Day 1, helping lead his team to two straight Potter Trophies (national championships) in his first two years. His career 43-17 record speaks for it self, but Kumar exemplified the criteria for this award with his reaction to the result of the Individual National Championship match during his sophomore year. He failed to capitalize on five match-ball opportunities during the contest, and in the end, when he lost the match, he responded with dignity and respect for his opponent.
Trinity Head Coach Paul Assaiante writes proudly about his senior tri-captain: “In his four years here, Kush has shown great character both on and off of the court, and until this year, he has played number one in our lineup. He has played against the very best and won significantly more than he lost, leading us to two national team championships. They say you learn more about a person from how they handle losing than how they handle success. This is clearly the case in Kush.”
Spencer Lovejoy, Yale University
Spencer Lovejoy’s dedication to the game he loves has paid dividends as his college career progressed. As a first-year, Lovejoy earned accolades as a first-team All-Ivy League player and a top seed in a B Division draw at the CSA Individual National Championships. From there, he has outworked many of his peers, to the point where he was the first Yale Bulldog in 16 years to reach the Individual National semifinals at the end of his junior season. His record may not be as sparkling as some of his fellow nominees, but Lovejoy’s commitment to the game and respect for opponents and coaches earns him plaudits from many around the college game.
Dave Talbott, longtime Yale Head Coach, had this to say about his senior captain: “Spencer is known for his devotion and hard work. He is also known as one of the cleanest and fairest players in the CSA. Spencer has been one of the best examples of sportsmanship, clearing from the ball, and proper demeanor on the court in the college game. He has a reputation of being polite, introducing himself, and being aware of representing himself and Yale Squash in the right manner. In my three decades-plus of coaching, I honestly reflect that Spencer has been a unique player for Yale at the top level. His passion and love for the game, along with his respect for the sport and all that it encompasses, is rare.”