Athlete of the Issue: Taylor Clayton ’21

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Tom Honan

Clayton’s favorite part of playing squash is its balance of competition and sportsmanship.

Taylor Clayton ’21 is a four-year Senior and co-captain of the Boys Varsity Squash team. Next year, Clayton will play squash at Yale University. Co-captain John Nicholson ’22 said, “Taylor knows how to lead by example. He is a great role model for everyone on the team in terms of his work ethic and sportsmanship.” Teammate Callan Venkatesan ’23 said, “He really helped me feel like a part of the team last year, and we can always count on him.”

What is your favorite part about the Varsity Squash team?

My favorite part about the Varsity Squash team is our camaraderie. The team always has an amazing balance between friendship and competition. Everyone is working really hard to improve their own game and work their way up the ladder, but come match day, everyone is supportive and energetic. This creates a really good atmosphere to both improve as a squash player and develop lifelong friendships. 

How has leading the team this year been?

I have had a great time continuing to get to know all the guys on the team, even though our court time was restricted. We organized weekly team dinners either in the Dining Hall or at the courts with Mizza’s delivery. These team dinners were awesome for bonding. 

How have this year’s circumstances changed your routines and practices?

As a team, we spent more time doing off-court fitness and solo drills (one person per court). Often, I would have sessions where I would hit hundreds of shots to myself without anyone else on the court. In addition, because we have a new Director of Squash, Bobby Burns ’08, the rest of the team and I also have had the opportunity to practice with him one-on-one. 

What do you like most about playing squash?

I love playing squash because as soon as the glass door closes, everything else fades away. I get the opportunity to focus on a single objective. Squash brings the best parts of individual and team sports together. Overall, there is also a really healthy balance between competition and sportsmanship, which I haven’t found in many other sports. 

What is a highlight from past seasons?

Right before spring break last year, our team competed in Nationals. We spent the entire weekend together as a team, which was a great experience. On top of that, we played Belmont Hill and our match went on very late. The match was tied 3-3, so it came down to the last game between Callan Venkatesan ’23 and Belmont’s #2. At about 12:00 a.m., when Callan won, everyone went crazy. It was a great team win and a great weekend. 

What advice would you give to a current or future athlete?

Get to know your coaches. They are some of the best people at Hotchkiss and want nothing but the best for you. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.