US Squash presented Donald Mills the W. Stewart Brauns, Jr. Award—one of the organization’s highest honors—in a ceremony during the 2023 Bahl and Gaynor Cincinnati Gaynor Cup Squash Championship. More than a hundred people were present, including seventeen members of the Mills family.
Tim Zimmerman, the chair of the sports committee at the Cincinnati Country Club (CCC), introduced Kevin Klipstein, the president and CEO of US Squash. Klipstein first thanked CCC’s current head squash professional Nathan Dugan for his efforts in making the Gaynor Cup a success and providing the opportunity to honor a predecessor of his. Klipstein acknowledged that Dugan, like Mills, was a “triple threat” in being an accomplished organizer, great athlete and inspiring coach.
Klipstein went on to outline some of Don Mills’ extraordinary accomplishments. Mills was a star player at Trinity in the early 1960s and for decades has been a top masters player. In singles he won the U.S. men’s 50+ in 1989 and in doubles Mills captured the U.S. men’s 65+ in 2004 (with Sam Howe), the 70+ in 2009 (with Ritchie Bell), 2010 and 2011 (with Ted Marmor) and 2013 (with Bart McGuire) and the 75+ in 2014 and 2015 (with Ritchie Bell).
Off the court, Mills has played one of the most impactful roles as a coach in U.S. squash history. For over three decades, Mills was the innovative and galvanic leader of the squash program at the CCC, training hundreds of juniors and making it a center of excellence in the Midwest. More than three dozen of his players became captains of collegiate teams, many became national champions and a sizable number have followed in Mills’ footsteps to become leaders in their own right in the squash community. An early adopter of softball, Mills was one of the first club coaches to take juniors overseas on training trips, and he was the U.S. Junior Men’s Team coach at the 1990 World Championships in Paderborn, Germany and at the 1992 World Championships in Hong Kong.
Mills was gracious in his acceptance. He thanked the club and noted that what he was most proud of was all the juniors he coached, their achievements in college squash and those who have carried on with the sport and are still so engaged. Klipstein underscored the influence Mills has had on the sport in reading the Brauns plaque that states the influence his coaching has had on thousands of players nationwide due to the cascading impact of the people he reached and those they coached and mentored subsequently.
The W. Stewart Brauns, Jr. Award, awarded annually since the 1980s, is given by the US Squash board to a person who has made sustained administrative, off-the-court contributions to the game of squash. It is named after a longtime and supremely dedicated leader of US Squash, Stew Brauns, who was a tournament director, head referee, committee chair and a founder of the World Squash Federation. Previous honorees include Jahangir Khan who served as the president of the World Squash Federation, Jay Prince who founded and published Squash Magazine, Danielle Maur who runs Life Time Fitness’ squash program, referees Larry Sconzo and Mike Riley, Shabana Khan who has been a leading teaching pro, and most recently Dan Keating who was influential in the construction of more than 50 courts nationwide.