Athlete of the Issue: Scott Shrager ’19

Scott Shrager ’19 is a four-year member and co-captain of the Boys Varsity Squash team. Beck Ayres ’22 said, “Scott is a determined captain. He is always the first one onto the court in practice and the last one out. He works as hard or harder than anyone else on the team, and it’s going to be sad to see him go next year.”

When did you start playing squash?

When I was 13. There were a couple of courts by my house and my brother used to play when he was younger, so I…picked it up one day and fell in love. I used to play all the time when I first started, twice a day probably, every day, before I came here.

What’s squash like at Hotchkiss compared to back home?

I hadn’t played on a squash team before coming here and even though squash is technically an individual sport, it’s still very much reliant on a team dynamic. You train with your teammates every day; they give you advice during matches, you give them advice during matches; there’s an accountability and an interdependence that’s unique to team squash.

What’s your favorite part about being on the team?

The work ethic of…my teammates is really inspiring, even though we have a lot of young guys on the team this year (we have quite a few freshman and Lowermids). My favorite part is probably just coming to practice every day, and being super-inspired by how hard they work and how much they love playing squash, so that…keeps me going.

How has the team progressed since you first started?

Every year we’ve gotten better. Every year we’ve been placing higher at nationals or [placing] the same, but we have more depth each year. We have a stronger team dynamic each year, and every year I see more fans coming to our matches. As we’ve been getting better, we’ve been getting more and more attention from the student body, and having a lot of people in the stands during matches helps.

Describe the best squash game you’ve played here.

In squash, we play best of three games, but let’s say I win two games and you win two games, then you play a final fifth game and that determines the winner.  Five-game matches are always super-exciting and a true test of your mental [and] physical strength, because they’re super-exhausting. Last year, there was…a super-long match and [we were] in the fifth game. You only play to eleven points – it goes first to eleven for each game, but if it’s ten all you have to win by two (it can go eleven-ten, eleven-all, twelve-eleven, twelve-all, all the way up past the score). In that match, I think I won 17-15 in the fifth game, and there were tons of people watching. It was the most exciting moment in my athletic history.

Do you have any special pre-game rituals?

No – I just try to relax and make sure that I am in a good calm headspace before stepping onto the court, because squash is very intense, and it’s important to be able to control your psychological status.

What kind of squash racket do you use and why?

I use a head Zenon S20; it’s a really light racket and it’s very thin. A lot of people don’t pay attention to the profile of rackets, but one of the reason I love this racket is that it has a really narrow profile, so you can get a nice angle on the ball to get different kinds of spins.

What are you looking forward to for most the rest of the season?

I’m looking forward to going to nationals, fulfilling our potential, competing against some of the best teams in the country, and proving ourselves for Hotchkiss.