Former squash coach for the Manchester, England-based Bowdon Cricket Club and Merion Cricket Club, respectively, Alex Stait, has accepted the position of Director of Squash for The Agnes Irwin School.
“This is the first time that the girls have had squash courts at school to utilize,” Stait said of the four squash courts that now make up Agnes Irwin’s new Pierce Squash Center. “So there are a lot of new opportunities that that brings." The Pierce Squash Center, with four courts and a viewing area, is part of a new 85,000 square-foot Athletic Center that opened this school year.
“Some of the best fun I’ve had playing squash was back in England when I played school squash…and I hope to give that experience to the girls here as well.”
Stait picked up the sport at nine-years-old, progressing to junior teams and later playing for the PSA World Tour upon leaving school at 18. Originally from the United Kingdom, Stait has played professionally in the United States and abroad, eventually obtaining the ranking of the No. 52 squash player in the world. At Wycliffe College (a co-educational independent school in Gloucestershire, England), he was the No. 1 player for five years and captain for three of those years.
"Through the conversations and meetings we have had with Alex, we were impressed by his experience, principles and strategic planning to build our squash program,” said Sheila Pauley, Director of Athletics at Agnes Irwin. “We are excited to start this new chapter of AIS squash."
It was not until twisting his knee during a tournament in Pakistan, resulting in a series of knee operations, that Stait had to end his playing career. “Sure, it was disappointing to retire early,” admitted Stait, “but it got me into coaching earlier and I was lucky to be able to stay in the game!”
Coaching has been a longtime practice for Stait, who began mentoring younger squash players when he was age 17 and continued to do so throughout the majority of his career. One of the highlights of his coaching career to date, he recalled, was while coaching the North West of England Team Under 17, comprising 117 players. “One year we won the National Championship title…it was a great achievement for us.”
Stait looks forward to enjoying more highlights coaching Agnes Irwin students over the next few years.
“I’m lucky that I get to do something I enjoy as a job. Not many people get to do that.”