During the National Collegiate Individual Championships, the College Squash Association (CSA) introduced the players who have been voted as the 2023 Skillman and Betty Richey Award Finalists.
The CSA would like to congratulate University of Virginia’s Omar El Torkey, Drexel University’s Matias Knudsen, and Harvard University’s Marwan Tarek as the 2023 Skillman Award finalists. Drexel University’s Alina Bushma, Cornell University’s Siva Subramaniam, and Princeton’s Andrea Toth earned recognition as the finalists for the 2023 Betty Richey Award.
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. These individuals are evaluated on their on-court poise and demeanor, skill level and ability in the game of squash, team play, contributions to intercollegiate squash, leadership, and cooperation with players, coaches, and tournament officials.
Top candidates for the Richey Award are those players who best exemplify the ideals of squash in their love of and devotion to the game, their strong sense of fairness, and their excellence in play and leadership. Nominees are also praised for their cooperation with opponents, coaches, and competition officials and their overall contributions to intercollegiate squash.
The recipient of the 2023 Skillman and Betty Richey Award will be announced during the CSA’s live college squash awards show – THE SENIOR SERVE – on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 starting at 7:00 p.m. The Show will be streamed live on CSA’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels.
The Skillman Award is presented by the Schiller Family Foundation in honor of Dr. Sheldon Schiller.
The Richey Award is presented by the Aziz Family, strong supporters of the College Squash Association and Yale Squash.
Finalists are listed in alphabetical order:
Skillman Award Finalists
Omar El Torkey, University of Virginia
Omar El Torkey has been a major driving force behind the success of the University of Virginia Men’s Squash program over the last four years. His career started with a bang, earning Mid-Atlantic Squash Conference Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors as a first-year, along with a Second Team All-America selection. He went on to receive two more Second Team All-America honors while winning over 80% of his college career matches.
Virginia’s coaches also highlight El Torkey’s leadership and experience: “From the moment he joined our program, Omar has inspired and fueled the growth of the UVA men’s squash team. Omar’s personality, presence, and performance have been instrumental in making this team one that our University, our players, and our coaches are very proud of. You can see the impact that he has made in the way that he has created these past four years and in the way that his teammates look up to him. He has, of course, been a phenomenal player on the court for us, affording the team big wins at that top end of the ladder. But he is also one of the most selfless individuals you will ever meet and has also been such a positive force when it comes to helping his teammates develop. His demeanor on court and the respect he shows his opponents is impeccable and is a source of pride for his coaches and the University of Virginia administration.”
Matias Knudsen, Drexel University
Matias Knudsen has shared his impressive skill and flair for the game with the CSA for four full seasons, and he moves on from college squash as one of the most recognizable players in the game. His four All-America selections – two First Team and two Second Team – speak for themselves, but it may be Knudsen’s regular contributions to CSA’s Shot of the Month compilations that fans will remember most. Knudsen has also led Drexel’s improvement from the top, helping the Dragons move from 10th after his freshman year to 5th in 2023.
The Drexel coaches are the first to sing Knudsen’s praises: “Matias Knudsen is a deserving Skillman Award nominee. He represents the beauty of the game in so many ways. He has an elite level skill set and creativity that is unmatchable. More than just wowing the crowd, his topspins exemplify the joy and creativity that those who play the game all know and love.
Besides his skill, Matias competes with the highest degree of sportsmanship. His battles against the best of the best are always extremely physically brutal and simultaneously the most fair. Moreover, while competing against an elite group of competitors, he leads Drexel from the front with important wins and brilliant team camaraderie.”
Marwan Terek, Harvard University
Marwan Tarek is one of the preeminent members of the CSA Class of 2023. His on-court career statistics are incredibly impressive, with consistent selections to the First Team All-America and First-Team All-Ivy League rosters during each season of his career. Add on his National Collegiate Individual Championship as a sophomore and you have an extremely accomplished student-athlete. His leadership also made a big difference for his team, earning the captainship during his last two seasons and winning four straight Men’s Team Championships.
Harvard’s coaching staff credits Tarek’s consistency and drive for his and the team’s immense success: “Marwan has been a leader on our team since he first stepped on campus. His energy and team-first attitude have made him a great example for his teammates. His tremendous commitment, combined with a lighthearted sense of humor has enabled him to become a pillar of our team culture. As a result, his teammates voted him as their co-captain both as a junior and senior. In addition to winning the individual national title as a sophomore, he led his team to 4 national team championships.”
Betty Richey Award Finalists
Alina Bushma, Drexel University
Alina Bushma’s story is one that will be remembered for years to come. A native of Ukraine, Bushma built herself into one of the top female competitors in the CSA, earning two First Team All-America selections after a Second Team nod in her sophomore year. But it was Drexel’s second-place finish in the 2022 Howe Cup, spurred on by Bushma’s comeback victory in the semifinal just hours after her home country was invaded, which stands out a the signature achievement of her college career.
The Drexel coaches reflect on what Bushma has meant to their program: “Alina Bushma represents the highest standard of what it means to be a Student Athlete. She has an impressive 3.99 GPA and holds Drexel’s record for highest win percentage while playing the number two and one positions during her tenure. She balanced her passion for improving and competing on the squash court with her pursuit of excellence in the classroom.
What separates Alina is her excellence and poise in competition. War broke out in her home country hours before our bus trip to 2022 Team Nationals. With an unimaginable situation off court, Alina found herself 2-0 down in the semifinals of nationals. Many would have excused her choosing not to play or losing from such a difficult spot. However, Alina’s excellence in play and leadership shined through and she won 3-2, giving Drexel their highest win in program history.”
Sivasangari Subramaniam, Cornell University
Sivasangari “Siva” Subramaniam finishes her career as arguably the most successful women’s squash player in Cornell University history. Her four First Team All-America honors, three appearances in the National Collegiate Individual Championship Finals including one championship, and her consistent All-Ivy League accolades demonstrate her phenomenal success as a player. Although it was never in question, her resolve and devotion to squash really showed through during her final season when she successfully recovered from a severe automobile crash to compete during her final semester on campus. The fact that she returned to the Ramsay Cup Final after the accident is a testament to her will and eagerness to represent Cornell on the national stage one more time.
Subramaniam’s coaches at Cornell cannot say enough about her impact on their program: “Siva Subramaniam has exemplified the ideals of squash completely. Siva has carried herself this season, and throughout her 4 years as a student-athlete, with humility, fairness and respect for every player that she has taken to the court with. Not once in her 4 years have you seen her treat an opponent unfairly or noticeably question referees. Her fairness and sportsmanship have been an inspiration to many, if not all, student-athletes. She has shown that you can be hard, but fair and carry yourself on court with grace.”
Andrea Toth, Princeton University
Andrea Toth’s love for and devotion to college squash is apparent in her progressive success over the course of her career. After dominating in the lower half of Princeton’s starting lineup during her first year on campus, she gradually worked her way to the top of the ladder over her final three seasons. The work clearly paid off, with Toth earning First Team All-America and First Team All-Ivy League honors for two straight seasons to close out her career. Toth’s leadership and dedication propelled the Princeton Women to great heights, and her example is one that should be emulated by future players.
Princeton Head Coach Gail Ramsay shared her praise of Toth’s career: “Andrea’s success as an athlete can only be surpassed by her genuine enjoyment of the game of squash, as well as the competition and the joy of the team experience. She shows all of her opponents tremendous respect by going into each match and competing hard while displaying fair play with an excellent understanding of how the game should be played. I have watched her grow her game through improved fitness and a mindset that keeps her wanting to advance and be the best she can be. Through a very focused attitude and determination she has set a high standard for herself and teammates.”