John Fry has played an unprecedented role in transforming squash in America.
Like many in the game, he first started playing squash in his thirties. A fellow administrator at the University of Pennsylvania suggested he try it out. Fry quickly fell in love with squash and for years they had a regular 5:30am game at the Ringe courts at Penn. Fry and his family joined Merion Cricket Club, where he started playing doubles. All three of his children played high school squash and two played collegiately, Mia Fry at Williams and Nat Fry at Drexel.
While president of Franklin & Marshall College from 2002 to 2010, Fry helped revive a storied squash program. In 2010 Fry returned to Philadelphia to become president of Drexel University. He quickly promoted squash from club to varsity status, brought in a former world No. 1 player, John White, as head coach and renovated Drexel’s aging hardball courts so now they boasted seven softball courts as part of the Kline & Specter Squash Courts in the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Both the Dragon’s women’s and men’s teams are now perennially ranked in the top ten in the nation, with the women’s team making a run to the national final in 2022.
In 2011 he brought the U.S. Open to Drexel, restoring the event’s prominent position on the international stage and hosting it from 2011-2019 at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center before it moved across the street to the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in 2021.
In 2013 Fry played a central role in the U.S. Open offering prize-money parity, a first for a major professional squash tournament. It was a groundbreaking move for the game of squash. In the next two years, it led to parity across all major events and the historic merger of the women’s and men’s pro tours.
Fry was a creative and farsighted leader for the game. He served on US Squash’s board from 2010 to 2017 and was chair of the board from 2013 to 2017. During that time he articulated the plan for a national squash center on Drexel’s campus. Fry’s dynamic, visionary leadership led directly to the Arlen Specter US Squash Center becoming a reality. The world’s largest community squash center, the Specter Center is situated in a landmark building on Drexel’s campus in a Promise Zone neighborhood that is also at the edge of Schuylkill Yards redevelopment project.
“I am moved beyond words to receive this honor,” Fry said. “My passion runs deep for this beautiful game that has given so much joy to my family and me. I have loved learning and playing squash with family and friends. I have enjoyed building several programs at the intercollegiate level. And I have been so honored to partner with Kevin Klipstein and his amazing team at US Squash on so many important ventures over the past decade. It has been a privilege to give something back to squash by helping it to grow into a more inclusive, diverse–and, as a result–a more popular sport that is accessible to everyone. The spectacular Arlen Specter US Squash Center on Drexel University’s campus has already become a showcase and catalyst for diversifying the sport, and working with US Squash and all our University and community partners to bring this project to fruition has been its own reward.”
“John Fry’s impact on squash in the U.S. and internationally is truly unparalleled,” said Kevin Klipstein, US Squash President & CEO. “His leadership and advocacy are really second to none–from the creation of college programs to the promotion of excellence at the highest level through the Drexel-US Squash partnership. Hosting the U.S. Open for more than a decade on Drexel University’s campus provided the event the strength and stability it needed to lead the world tour towards full parity in prize money for men and women, and elevate the presentation of the sport considerably. During this period, John also served as US Squash Chair of the Board for three years. Combined, these contributions of time and effort are themselves remarkable. Yet beyond all of this, John’s willingness to explore opportunities for an ambitious collaboration to create a national center for US Squash on Drexel’s campus led directly the what is now the Arlen Specter US Squash Center. The Specter Center has elevated US Squash and our ability to fulfill our mission to an entirely new level.”
Please join US Squash on April 2, 2022 for the induction of four members to the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame–Tom Page, John Fry, Gail Ramsay and Nancy Gengler-Saint–and the dedication of the spectacular new Peggy & Leo Pierce U.S. Squash Hall of Fame space in the Arlen Specter US Squash Center.