(Pictured, l-r: David and Palmer Page–accepting on behalf of their late brother, Tom–Gail Ramsay, Nancy-Gengler Saint, John Fry)
US Squash formally opened the Peggy & Leo Pierce U.S. Squash Hall of Fame, housed at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia, and inducted four new members to the Hall of Fame: Tom Page, John Fry, Nancy Gengler-Saint, and Gail Ramsay, April 2, 2022.
The special ceremony was held Saturday evening after the conclusion of the semifinals of the National Singles, which is being played April 1-3 at the Specter Center. Nearly 400 attendees enjoyed a welcome reception ahead of the festivities, before gathering to celebrate the unveiling of the permanent home of the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame.
The entire ceremony can be viewed below, including the dedication of the Hall of Fame space at the Specter Center along with speeches and videos celebrating the four new inductees.
Soo Venkatesan, the Chair of the Board of US Squash, opened the formalities by welcoming the entire squash community, both on site and those watching online. “The gift of the Specter Center keeps on giving,” she said. “The Hall of Famers continue to elevate and inspire us. This class of inductees honor us as the first class to come into a permanent home.”
Ned Edwards, the Executive Director of the Specter Center, spoke about the history of the center and the role the Pierce family played in fulfilling the goal of honoring the tremendous history of squash in America. “The Armory was built in 1916, twelve years after US Squash was founded here in Philadelphia,” Edwards said. “A century after the Armory was built, a new vision for it coalesced. There is not a point on the globe that could be better than the Armory. And here the Specter Center, there is no more hallowed space than the Peggy & Leo U.S. Squash Hall of Fame.”
After a ribbon cutting to officially unveil the Hall of Fame, Leo Pierce spoke on behalf of his siblings and the forty-eight Pierce family members about the significance of naming the beautiful Hall of Fame space after his parents, Peggy & Leo. “Sixty-seven years after my father first got on a squash court at the Cynwyd Club, our family is gathered here tonight to celebrate the game’s history. My father loved the game—he was a stalwart member of the Rocking Chair League at Cynwyd.” Pierce spoke movingly about his brother Chris, who died last fall, and the parallels between Chris and Hall of Fame inductee Tom Page.
The Hall of Fame consists of displays and exhibits on the mezzanine floor of the Specter Center, elevating the history of excellence in the sport directly within the world’s largest community squash center. The highlight is a special fifteen-foot-long fin featuring the names and iconic photographs of the Hall of Fame members.
Kevin Klipstein, President & CEO of US Squash, noted that the Hall of Fame would be a living installation that will evolve and grow over time. “Just as US Squash and this Specter Center will always be works in progress, the Peggy & Leo Pierce Hall of Fame will continue to develop and evolve,” said Klipstein. “We’ll be adding interactive and video exhibit installations and building out our US Squash Archives, named in honor of Jim Zug, Jr., with historical and educational exhibits rotating in a new archive display telling the exceptional stories of our sport.”
The ceremony then pivoted to welcome four new members into the Hall of Fame. The first inductee was Tom Page. His two brothers, Palmer and David, spoke on his behalf, telling stories about Tom including poignant accolades that poured in after Tom tragically died in 2001, including a tribute from Jahangir Khan—who many consider the greatest men’s squash player of all time—about Tom’s unique combination of on-court power, speed, and determination.
In her acceptance remarks, Nancy Gengler-Saint spoke powerfully in what she termed a “love letter” to the game of squash. “The bad news in life is like the good news in life—it comes in unexpected, surprising ways,” she said. “I picked up squash when I was in a flood of tears after not making the field hockey team my first year at Princeton. Squash has allowed me to go out on the court and make my own decisions, express myself, learn how to fail and fail better.”
John Fry focused on the important contributions of those around him in making his broad accomplishments in the sport possible, including the Specter Center project. “There have been amazing partners that have led to this incredible building, the greatest squash center in the world,” he said. “We all need a full and generous heart to pay this forward.”
The final inductee of the evening was Gail Ramsay, who spoke amidst the loud cheers of current and past Princeton women’s team members. “My parents allowed me to follow my own path and my own passions,” she said. “Squash has brought me so much joy, so many lifelong friendships.”
Concluding the evening’s ceremony, Klipstein congratulated all the inductees and their families and referenced the moving acceptance speeches. He referenced John Fry’s entreat to “pay it forward” and closed by saying, “We are all bound together, in our admiration of the achievements and contributions of the now nearly seventy members of the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame. And we are united in our efforts, to lead the nation to dramatically increase access to squash, to reach full parity in participation by women and girls, to boost public high school squash nationally, to gain NCAA recognition for collegiate squash, and to finally earn squash’s inclusion in the Olympic Program.”
The evening concluded with a celebratory dinner in the Ganek Family Champions Deck at the Specter Center.
The U.S. Squash Hall of Fame was founded in 2000, opened at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia then moved to Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale in 2006. With the additions of the John Fry, Nancy Gengler-Saint, Tom Page and Gail Ramsay, there are now sixty-nine members of the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame.