By S. Quinn DeJoy and J. Murrer
Feb. 10, 2021: Bronxville High School Senior Lainey Neild has been playing squash for Bronxville since 6th grade. Her enthusiasm for the sport is infectious, and as captain of the girls’ squash team for the past two years, she brings that energy to the court each day.
Neild played on the coed Bronxville squash team until last year when she became the leader of the newly formed girls’ team.
“We were getting it all started, and our focus was on building bonds and connecting people,” said Neild. “It was so exciting, and we created an amazing community. Last year we had team dinners and drive arounds. This year the season just started, so we have not done anything, but we may have outside events.”
Last year the girls had a normal season, but this year has been quite different.
The Bronxville squash team plays in the Fairwest League and normally plays matches against teams from both Westchester and Connecticut, but this year no interstate games are permitted. Furthermore, the winter season started more than a month later than usual.
In the team’s opening match last week against the Rye Garnets, the Bronxville girls had a commanding 6-1 win. The team also played last week against Rye’s Boys’ B Team and won 5-2.
Neild plays in the top spot. Also playing for the varsity team are Ellie Clifford, Katie Hennessey, Scarlett Hine, Meghan Curran, Sabrina Latham, Fiona Denning, Lizzie Langhoff, and Keala Schubert.
Pictured: Bronxville Girls Squash Team: Latham, Clifford, Hennessy, Neild, Curran, Hine, Denning. Not pictured: Langhoff, Schubert
Being a senior during this past year has been a challenge for all Bronxville athletes who are used to competing on multiple levels. Neild would normally play in U.S. Squash tournaments around the country from September to March, ending her season at the U.S. Squash Junior Nationals. The pandemic has changed all that. Neild’s best historical national ranking is 26th, but she was unable to compete in nationals last year because it was canceled. The 2021 U.S. Junior National tournament is currently on hold.
Neild took her enthusiasm for squash and, in 10th grade, volunteered to teach children at Street Squash, an urban squash program that provides squash training and academic support to students in Harlem.
“Squash is so fun. It just brings everyone together. I figured if I was working at this program, I would just teach squash, but the experience turned out to be so different.”
During her time at Street Squash, Neild quickly found out that squash was more than just a game.
“I thought it was about technique, but it was really about forming a community,” said Neild.
“These kids had never heard about squash. We did so many things not related to squash and had a lot of fun. Squash was so much more. It was a springboard for gaining confidence.”
Neild would like to continue playing squash in college at some level.
“I would like to walk on or play on a club team or start a club team,” said Neild. “I think it is an amazing sport because while you are the only one that is playing on the court, there is a powerful community behind you.”