The conclusion to the historic story of Crew USA’s squash run within the 2019 Pan American Games got here right down to the final man on the crew — twice. It was Andrew Douglas of Penn males’s squash, the one faculty participant on the roster, who would step as much as the semifinal spherical and face Alfredo Avila — former No. 35 on the planet, hailing from the first-seeded favorites of Mexico.
With a lot to show for his spot on the crew and a first-ever finals look at stake for Crew USA, Douglas delivered probably the most dramatic upset of the competitors in Lima, Peru. He bounced again from being down 2-1, and efficiently secured Crew USA’s look on the finals.
Douglas and Crew USA prevailed once more within the finals in opposition to Colombia. Douglas reached the decisive 11 factors in three of 4 matches in opposition to Andrés Felipe Herrera to lastly safe the historic prime spot on the rostrum.
“That was the craziest excessive I’ve ever felt in my life. Simply coming off that courtroom, I felt like there was simply nothing that would probably convey me down,” Douglas stated.
Regardless of sharing the roster with prime gamers Chris Hanson and Todd Harrity, who’ve been passing the U.S. title back-and-forth between themselves since 2015, Douglas was not misplaced. His composure was uncharacteristic of a 20-year-old, and his confidence on the courtroom translated into electrical rallies. However these attributes had been already fairly acquainted to supporters of Penn males’s squash who had witnessed Douglas’ collegiate profession. His gold medal efficiency in Lima was simply the height of all of it thus far.
Douglas has been taking part in for the No. 1 spot on the crew since his freshman season. In his first deciding match at Penn, Douglas’ comeback in opposition to Rochester rivaled his rebound on the Pan American Video games two years later. After trailing 2-1, he returned to win 3-2, which secured his undefeated streak that stretched effectively into the brand new 12 months.
“That was undoubtedly one of many extra outrageous squash matches that I’ve performed in,” Douglas stated. “Simply trying again, I don’t know how I probably gained that match.”
Following his decisive position in Penn’s victory in opposition to Rochester, Douglas would end his first season at Penn with a 14-4 report, incomes each first-team All-American and first-team All-Ivy nods, and catapulting the crew to a No. 7 spot within the nationwide rankings.
As a sophomore, Douglas was important in reaching Penn’s first No. 1 rating by Faculty Squash Affiliation and completed the season himself ranked No. 3 within the Faculty Squash Affiliation nationwide rankings. In two seasons, Douglas proved momentous to Penn males’s squash’s trajectory within the nationwide highlight.
Douglas returned to Penn as a junior co-captain of the crew after the Pan-Am Video games, and made nationwide squash headlines once more when he knocked out Lucas Serme of France — ranked sixth on the planet — in entrance of a house crowd on the U.S. Open in Philadelphia.
However below the stress of dwelling as much as his completed summer time, Douglas quickly confronted harm issues, which had been then compounded by the disheartening information of a canceled season.
Nonetheless, with the absence of aggressive squash, Douglas selected to benefit from his time, particularly by additional exploring his ardour for his research.
Douglas has been pursuing a significant in political science, which has blossomed from an curiosity right into a ardour over the previous 4 years.
“My mother truly volunteered and labored for Hillary in her marketing campaign finance departments, and we’d home marketing campaign staffers at our home in [the] 2016 marketing campaign — which was additionally the primary election that I might truly vote,” Douglas stated.
Douglas had the distinctive alternative to watch the workings of a political marketing campaign from an in depth proximity. By assembly staffers and studying in regards to the advanced operations behind the scenes, the expertise grew to affect his path in faculty and for the long run.
“And I feel that at all times caught with me — particularly that being probably the most formative election of my life — all of it felt significant, all the pieces that I used to be studying and the issues that had been occurring round me day by day.”
In gentle of the 2020 election, he rendered the identical aggressive spirit he had at all times proven on the squash courts into his pursuit of larger civic engagement.
“The previous 12 months pushed me to become involved. I counted ballots on the Philadelphia conference heart, and simply being there once they introduced that Biden had gained Pennsylvania, and being with all these random individuals who had been caught within the basement of the conference heart for eight hours a day, it gave me related emotions to successful gold once I performed,” Douglas stated.
“I at all times did greatest in squash once I felt the outcomes had been significant and that they meant one thing, whether or not that be like for like [my] nation or for my crew. And I bought a really related feeling of function whereas getting concerned in politics, particularly the previous 12 months.”
Up to now 12 months alone, Douglas has expanded his ambitions past simply being a superb expertise in squash. He began working for a New York state senator, was concerned in a faculty board election marketing campaign, and at the moment works for a political consulting agency in Philadelphia.
“I’ve gotten concerned in different issues and that’s made me in a position to pivot from being somebody who had one aim — to be the very best at squash that I could possibly be — to being somebody who has many targets and plenty of aspirations, ” Douglas stated.
And with the return to coaching this semester, Douglas has made the welcome return to the Penn squash courts with new motivations and views on his recreation.
“I’ve been having fun with my time on the courtroom and never enthusiastic about the long run that a lot. I’ve simply been specializing in having fun with every swing and making an attempt to benefit from it,” Douglas stated.
Supporters of Penn squash can be glad to listen to that this won’t be their farewell to Douglas simply but. Inside per week of the Ivy League’s decision to extend eligibility for an additional 12 months to present seniors who would attend graduate college, Douglas utilized to Penn’s Fels Institute of Authorities. In a matter of just a few weeks, Douglas was on observe for an additional season with Penn males’s squash and a chance to additional domesticate his ardour for political science.
“I had in my head an thought of which college I wished to use to, and I knew that it will be Fels. However when the choice got here out of the Ivy League, I simply jumped to use inside the subsequent week,” Douglas stated. “So subsequent 12 months, I feel, goes to be a very cool 12 months for me. I am excited to redefine who I’m and form what position I need squash to play in my life.”
The additional 12 months of eligibility can be Douglas’ alternative to make up for a misplaced season, but additionally Penn males’s squash’s likelihood to renew their highly-aimed targets with Douglas on the crew.
“I nonetheless have the very best requirements of myself in squash, and I need to be the very best squash participant that I will be. However I feel that a part of what’s truly made me higher these previous few months has been letting go of these actually strict expectations for myself and simply permitting myself to do what I need to do; principally giving myself acceptance and freedom to do what I really feel within the second. I am somebody who undoubtedly places lots of stress on myself, and so not having that stress and having different features of my life that I actually care about, that I get that means and function from, that’s actually liberated me, and made me, I feel, a extra full individual.”