A first-year who is spearheading an effort to start a women's squash team at the University of Richmond has submitted an application to the school and is waiting for it to be processed, she said. 

Ally Maner was recruited in high school for squash, but knew she wanted to go to UR, where there was no women’s squash team. She recruited sophomore Anna Nehrbas to help her form a team here because the two girls had played together in high school.

“I want to give the women on this campus the chance to play competitively in college, and continue practicing and developing their squash skills,” Maner said. 

Maner showed up to squash tryouts for the men's team because she wanted to try it despite it being an all-male team.

“They were so inclusive and excited that I had so much interest in playing,” Maner said. “Unfortunately, they practice at an all-men’s club off campus, so I was not able to practice with them during the week, but I had some friends who made the team that would hit around with me every once in a while.”

Although she could not practice with the men’s team during the week, this past fall Maner played in a few matches and tournaments with the team.

“They were also incredibly supportive when I told them I wanted to start a women’s team,” Maner said. “They even helped me find the right resources to do so.”

Maner and Nehrbas decided to start the team together. The men’s squash coach, Russ Sterling, has been helping them pioneer this process, Maner said. They have submitted an application to the Center for Student Involvement. 

Once the application is approved, they will present to the Student Development Committee. The follow-up consultation meeting after their approval will take care of all the logistics, such as their organization registration, funding and administrative tools.

“Russ Sterling has offered to be our mentor throughout the process and has agreed to coach us if we are able to pay him and wanted him to once we have things started,” Nehrbas said. “He has also been in contact with prospective female students who are interested in playing squash at Richmond.”

Maner said she had been trying to get the word out on campus. 

“I’ve been able to talk to some women about it and already have a really great amount of interest in the team,” she said. “I’m really excited to start tabling in THC so that we can reach out to more people on campus.”

Sterling said he supported the creation of the team.

“There is no reason that we shouldn’t have a women’s squash team," Sterling said. "The men pulled it off.”

Sterling has been the men’s club squash coach for two years. He said if everything went well, the women’s club squash team should start in September.

Maner said Sterling had talked to staff from the YMCA in downtown Richmond about potentially hosting practices for the future team. Maner is in the early stages of developing a website for the team to give students the ability to learn more about the program.

“It’s such a fun sport,” Maner said. “I’m really excited to see how it all plays out next semester.”

Maner said any students interested in joining the women's squash team could contact her at ally.maner@richmond.edu. 

Contact contributor Kate Breed at katherine.breed@richmond.edu.