2021 Skillman Award Finalists Announced

0
393
views

Following the release of the Betty Richey Award finalists yesterday, the College Squash Association (CSA) announced the Skillman Award finalists today. The Skillman Award, also voted on by CSA coaches, is the top honor bestowed each year to a senior men’s squash student-athlete who has displayed exemplary sportsmanship and skill during his career.

The finalists for the 2021 Skillman Award are Sanjay Jeeva of Franklin & Marshall College, Salim Khan of George Washington University, and Jack Lentz of the United States Naval Academy.

The nominees for the Skillman Award are 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
  • Leadership
  • Cooperation with players, coaches, and tournament officials

The winner of the 2021 Skillman Award will be announced during the CSA’s live College Squash Awards Show on March 25, 2021 starting at 7:00 p.m. The Show will be streamed live on CSA’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels.

Once again, 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:

Sanjay Jeeva, Franklin & Marshall College

photo: Franklin & Marshall College Athletics

Sanjay Jeeva has been a leader for his Franklin & Marshall squad since he arrived on campus, both on court via his placement at the top of the ladder and off the court as a role model and two-year captain. In his No. 1 role, Jeeva has taken on some of the best men’s players that college squash has offered, putting together an impressive resume and an excellent 53-23 overall record. It is also his attitude as a positive and passionate player who is always striving to improve his game while teaching others along the way that earned coaches’ attention. Jeeva fell just one match short of All-America status last season and was poised to break through before the pandemic halted operations this year.

F&M head coach Gavin Jones spoke glowingly of his team leader: “Over the 4 years, Sanjay has been a joy to work with. He is always a team first player, always supporting his teammates in a positive manner and loves to help his teammates improve. Of course, Sanjay is always looking to improve his game as well. He always asks for constructive criticism and loves to get on court with his coaches to help him develop his game further. He is one of the fairest players I have ever had the privilege to coach in my 11 years as head coach at F&M. When Sanjay graduates this year, it will be a massive loss for the team with his leadership, commitment to his teammates and his positive attitude he brings each and every day.”

Salim Khan, George Washington University

photo: Michael T. Bello

After winning the 2017 US Squash DeRoy Sportsmanship Award as a senior in high school, it is no surprise to see Salim Khan listed as a finalist for the Skillman Award. Khan has been a steadfast addition to the George Washington lineup since he arrived on campus, contributing right away to the joint program-best team finishes during his first two years. Khan really took on a critical role in his junior season when he was voted captain, led the team in victories, won team MVP honors, and reached a career victory total of 47. As a member of the Mid-Atlantic Squash Conference (MASC) All-Conference team, the GW Dean’s List, and the GW Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Khan clearly contributed meaningfully in many ways to his campus community.

Anderson Good, the George Washington head coach, shared his enthusiasm for Khan’s Skillman recognition: “We knew Salim would be an important addition to our lineup the second he arrived on campus, but his contributions off the court have equaled, and surpassed, his contributions on the court. Salim always embodied level headedness and sportsmanship on court. His work ethic away from the court displayed a true and genuine hunger to improve, while setting the correct example for his younger teammates as a leader. He is the sort of player that any coach would want to have on their team.”

Jack Lentz, United States Naval Academy

photo: U.S. Naval Academy Athletics

A planned U.S. Marine Corps member after graduation, Jack Lentz has effectively sharpened his leadership and physical skills on the squash court over the last four years. Lentz played at the top of the Navy lineup for the last three seasons (plus No. 2 as a first-year), amassing an incredible 56 victories as he crept closer to the Navy Squash history books. Perhaps even more impactfully, Lentz’s leadership has been a shining beacon for his teammates and his program during his career and especially during a year of disruption. The program’s first-ever All-MASC team member has channeled his devotion to squash into action with his teammates, creating ways to keep them engaged and inspiring them on court during the only matches of the 2020-2021 season so far.

Navy’s head coach Tyler Osborne is extremely proud of Lentz’s example and accomplishments: “Jack Lentz fully embodies what the Skillman award represents. On the performance side, Jack has played primarily number one on the Navy lineup throughout his four years and was instrumental in helping Navy achieve a top-8 ranking at the start of the 2018-2019 season. Beyond performance, Jack’s character truly highlights the type of leader he is. He has always displayed the utmost sportsmanship and is a true ambassador for our program and the game of squash. His leadership throughout this lack of season has been remarkable. He has kept this team engaged, motivated and working towards attainable goals, all in a season when squash has taken a back seat. I truly could not be more excited to see him continue to lead in his service to this country.”