On Wednesday, the College Squash Association (CSA) announced that University of Pennsylvania’s Aly Abou Eleinen, Harvard University’s Victor Crouin, and Princeton University’s Youssef Ibrahim are the three finalists for the 2022 Skillman Award presented by the Schiller Family Foundation.
The Skillman Award is the top honor in men’s college squash, given each year to a senior student-athlete who has displayed outstanding sportsmanship and skill throughout their college career. The CSA coaches vote to determine the finalists and will vote on the overall recipient starting next week.
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
- Cooperation with players, coaches, and tournament officials
The recipient of the 2022 Skillman Award will be announced during the CSA’s live awards Show – THE SENIOR SERVE – on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 starting at 7:00 p.m. The Show will be streamed live on CSA’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels.
Once again 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:
Aly Abou Eleinen, University of Pennsylvania
Aly About Eleinen made the most of his COVID-19-shortened three-season career, making his mark for the Quakers both as an individual and as a member of a program-defining team. His 53 wins ranks second all-time in Penn Men’s Squash history despite only having three seasons of play, and he earned First Team All-America and All-Ivy League selections all three years. His leadership and stellar play helped the 2022 Penn squad capture their first outright Ivy League title since 1969. Individually, Abou Eleinen reached the National Championship final in 2020 and the semifinal round in 2022, leaving a legacy of high-quality skill coupled with integrity and clean play on court.
Penn head coach Gilly Lane credits Abou Eleinen for his well-rounded success: “What separates Aly for me is his sportsmanship on court and his determination to be the best while representing his teammates, school, and family with class. Over the years I have seen Aly continuously play through contact, call double bounces on himself, and treat his opponents with the utmost respect. His teammates love him for not only how hard he works to be the best, but for the constant support he shows them. For three seasons he was the backbone of a team that created history for Penn. I am honored to have coached him for these past four years.”
Victor Crouin, Harvard University
The accomplishments and accolades for Harvard’s Victor Crouin are numerous and wide-ranging: two National Collegiate Individual Championships, three men’s team championships, First Team All-America and All-Ivy Leage, Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Ivy League Player of the Year twice, CSA Scholar Athlete and Academic All-Ivy League. In one of the best classes of Skillman Award finalists ever, Crouin’s on-court achievements rise to the top. At a time when reaching that level of success can be isolating, Crouin has also distinguished himself as a fair sportsman and outstanding teammate. His professionalism has carried over to his teammates and peers, sparking a run of success that has been awe-inspiring for the college squash community.
The Harvard coaching staff echoes that complimentary sentiment about Crouin: “Victor is the sort of leader who trains with players down the ladder regularly and is fully committed to helping all his teammates develop their games. His individual success inspires us all – three straight national team titles, winning the individual national title for the second time, multiple postseason awards – and he was voted MVP by his teammates this year. Having a great teammate who excels on the court and in the classroom like Victor does is such a great asset and example for our team.”
Youssef Ibrahim, Princeton University
The high standards that Youssef Ibrahim set at Princeton resonated throughout his team and the college squash community during his career. His haul of achievements and awards matches that of his fellow Skillman finalists, including three First Team All-America and All-Ivy League selections, Ivy League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards, and a berth in the National Collegiate Individual Final in 2022. As much as he is known for his professionalism, work ethic, and on-court success during one of the most competitive eras of college squash, Ibrahim is also recognized as an incredibly fair player. Ibrahim, too, inspires his teammates and the community at large through his leadership, determination, and sportsmanship.
Princeton head coach Sean Wilkinson talks about the value of Ibrahim leading his team: “Coaching Youssef has been an absolute privilege, and he has pushed our entire program to grow and improve in all aspects of how we operate. A senior captain, he has forged a deep bond with his teammates, continually challenging all of us to reach beyond what we deem to be possible for ourselves. Off-court, I have witnessed Youssef mature into a confident, humble, and genuinely good person. Youssef has achieved the highest standards in a manner that I hope he looks back on with tremendous pride. He deserves great credit for representing not only Princeton, but himself, with dignity and a high level of sportsmanship at all times.”