Long-time Brunswick Coach Jim Stephens was honored during a special ribbon cutting ceremony of the Scholastic Squash Exhibit, during the 2022 U.S. High School Championships Saturday, February 26, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center on the campus of Drexel University in Philadelphia.
The Scholastic Squash Exhibit—which permanently enshrines the legacy and impact of scholastic squash in the Specter Center’s north end—was donated in honor of Stephens by his former players and their families, led by Jennifer and Scott Mackesy. Stephens and his wife, Merilyn, were joined by Brunswick players and families past and present for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Among the former players were Dana Santry and Nick Spizziri–Stephens’ final class of 2020 students, three-time national champions with Brunswick and current college national finalists at Penn.
In addressing the group assembled for the occasion, Coach Stephens said, “US Squash has made all of our lives better, providing this perfect venue for the High School Nationals, a squash facility of this scale and magnitude just doesn’t happen. There are a lot of people who made this happen, and lots of very generous people.”
“A lot of credit goes to Kevin Klipstein, Shanin Specter, Ned Edwards, Narelle Krizek for providing leadership and vision to create this marvelous building,” Stephens continued. “A special thanks to Jennifer and Scott Mackesy for making scholastic squash an important part of the Arlen Specter US Squash Center. Thanks as well to Rob Dinerman, the author of ‘A History Of Squash at Brunswick School’. Rob has written histories of squash at five prep schools, and no one knows more about high school and college squash than he does. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this wonderful exhibit.”
Stephens, the 2014 USOPC National Coach of the Year, spent four decades as the Brunswick squash coach and led the Bruins to thirteen national finals—winning a record five national titles. For these reasons and more, the Mackesy Family decided to donate the exhibit in Stephens’ honor.
“As a board member of US Squash, I watched the National Center come together and was heartened by the number of community members who supported our endeavor through naming opportunities and participation in our program initiatives,” said Jennifer Mackesy, whose son Coulter played for Stephens at Brunswick, and older son Tyler, played at Hotchkiss. “As I was reflecting on my family’s journey with US Squash, scholastic squash was a highlight that enabled my boys to develop further as squash players and experience the camaraderie of team play.”
“In light of this, finding a place to celebrate scholastic squash at the Center became a priority for me,” Mackesy continued. “Being able to honor Jim in this way is a testament to all that he has done for the sport, as well as all the lives he has touched along the way. When I told Jim that we would like to honor him, his first question was, ‘Are you sure there are no other coaches more deserving than me?’ To which I replied, ‘According to what Rob Dinerman wrote in A History of Squash at Brunswick School, no!’ And the achievements of Jim’s teams are secondary to the role model he has been for his players. Jim is so incredibly deserving of this honor and I hope you all will join me in showing our appreciation for all that he has accomplished.”
The exhibit’s unveiling appropriately took place during the Specter Center’s first staging of the world’s largest squash tournament, the High School Nationals, which this year featured 169 varsity teams and 1,200 players.
“High School Nationals really is the jumping off point for the growth of the sport over the last two decades,” said Kevin Klipstein, President & CEO of US Squash. “There are two important throughlines for this event and exhibit. First are the coaches who inspire, and in Jim Stephens we have a coach who inspired so many generations of players, some who are here now to celebrate this historic moment. High School coaches are second to none who impact the game in a massive way. The 200 coaches here this weekend aren’t doing this because they’re getting paid well, they’re doing it for the love of the game, for the kids, and the values that squash passes down.”
“The other throughline are the people who support these initiatives,” Klipstein continued. “We wouldn’t have experienced the growth that we have without the support of the community, without the support of our board, and without their collective inspiration. We’re so grateful for Jen and Scott Mackesy who have led the Scholastic Squash Exhibit initiative and inspired us to recognize how important scholastic squash is and place a very prominent symbol of this in the Specter Center. While the exhibit helps us honor the past and present of scholastic squash, US Squash will continue to focus on the future of scholastic squash, and the hope of achieving varsity status in multiple states within the next decade.”
All are invited to enjoy the Scholastic Squash Exhibit at the Specter Center.
“What an incredible career Jim Stephens has had,” said Ned Edwards, Specter Center Executive Director and U.S. Squash Hall of Famer. “First as the beloved Head Pro at the Field Club and great friend and host to the touring pros who played at the Club’s wonderful annual events. Then thirty-five years with Brunswick, instilling his gentleman’s values of intense but respectful competition in hundreds of young men in preparation for their own journey to college and beyond. The Specter Center has been built to honor everything that is special about our sport of squash. The Scholastic Exhibit will be beautifully fabricated and will allow squash players from around the country and the world to appreciate Jim’s contributions and impact for generations to come. I’m thrilled that Scholastic Squash and Jim Stephens will be so appropriately honored at the Specter Center.”
View more images of the ceremony below.
If you would like to support US Squash’s effort to grow and support scholastic squash, click here:
Thank you to those who have supported scholastic and team squash by donating in honor of Jim Stephens: