HomeArticlesPlayer Spotlight: The Inspiring Comeback of Tighe Mullarkey, U.S. Naval Academy

Player Spotlight: The Inspiring Comeback of Tighe Mullarkey, U.S. Naval Academy

In a series aimed at celebrating our student-athletes, the College Squash Association (CSA) turns the spotlight on the inspiring journeys and remarkable accomplishments within its vibrant community. Comprising 32 women’s and 34 men’s varsity teams, the CSA is a dynamic collective of approximately 1000 dedicated student-athletes. These spotlight stories will aim to showcase the perseverance, talent, and spirit of these individuals both on and off the court.

The College Squash Association is proud to spotlight the incredible journey of Tighe Mullarkey, a first-year player at the U.S. Naval Academy.

One year ago, Tighe Mullarkey faced one of the most challenging periods of his life as a patient at Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent critical surgery for congenital lobar emphysema, a rare and serious lung condition. This resulted in a difficult 95-day stay in the hospital, during which Mullarkey was confined to his bed, grappling with limited functionality on his right side. The implications were profound; not only was his health in jeopardy, but his ability to continue playing squash or even return to the U.S. Naval Academy was uncertain.

Yet, amidst these uncertainties, Mullarkey harbored a steadfast goal: he was resolute in his desire to make a comeback to the squash courts. This singular ambition fueled his journey through the difficult days of recovery, serving as a beacon of hope and determination in the face of adversity.

Tighe Mullarkey’s journey and recovery is nothing short of remarkable. Overcoming immense physical and mental challenges, he not only returned to the U.S. Naval Academy but also reclaimed his place on the varsity squash team. Demonstrating incredible resilience, Mullarkey is currently making a strong impression in the 2023-2024 season, boasting an impressive 7-3 record. His return to form is a testament to his unwavering determination and hard work during his recovery.

The journey back was fraught with doubt and difficulty yet marked by gradual triumphs. “I attribute a majority of my recovery to the support I received from other people. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t constantly doubt ridden about my ability to play squash again or even return to the academy. I had friends, family, teammates and coaches constantly by my side, making sure I had all the tools necessary to make a full recovery and come back to the academy” Mullarkey reflects. 

Tyler Osborne, the Head Coach of the Naval Academy’s squash team, is filled with immense pride and admiration for Mullarkey. He shares, “to battle and compete with everything he went through this past year is admirable. Not just to get back to the Academy, but to get to a place where he could excel through plebe summer again and then to perform at a Division 1 varsity level on court. It takes a special type of courage and heart to believe in oneself to do just that. And that’s something, as a coach I’m very proud of. Those are the type of character traits that not only make for good teammates, but for good leaders and good officers down the road”.

Mullarkey regularly reminds himself of the second chance he has been given to play collegiate squash, earn his degree, and become a Naval officer. The quote, “only fear of failure makes a dream impossible to achieve” from The Alchemist, inspires Mullarkey to chase his dreams.

Do you have an inspiring college squash story to share? Reach out to us at admin@csasquash.com for a feature.

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