Boston University’s squash team hosted Brandeis University and TUFTS this past Saturday at the BU Fit Rec Center. As part of my feature story assignment, I went down in person to see the action unfold.
The morning’s fixture against Brandeis was scheduled for 10.30 and the players started warming up and stretching at 10. With Chandler Burke, one of only three girls on the squad, still finishing up on her breakfast of ‘Insomnia Cookies’ and iced coffee from ‘Dunkin Donuts’, team Captain and President of the club, Ben Bunjapamai walked over to tell her that she was playing. “Oh, I am?” said Burke. She quickly rushed to the bathroom to change into her gear and her sheepish expression as she came back and looked down at her extra long skirt, indicated she was not happy with the new kit, an indication that the club has limited funds.
Bunjapamai took charge of the team a year ago, but his intensity and maturity in rallying it together, makes it seem like he’s been doing this for ages. He pulled a hamstring in the decisive match against MIT a week ago, and hence was not competing on Saturday. But even as he awkwardly limped around and patrolled the squash courts, you could sense an aura of intimidation the team members felt from him.
“What time is it? You were supposed to be here 40 minutes ago. Hurry up!” Bunjapamai shouted on his cell phone. He then turned to the guys practicing on court. “Come on, I wanna see some movement. You’re standing and hitting and that is why you missed five shots just now,” he snapped at Ahaan, the newest member of the team from India. You would think the team was up against some strong opposition with the urgency with which Bunjapamai led his troops. In fact, Brandeis’ team is not even registered with the College Squash Association and this fixture was just a warm-up game, with the big one to follow later that day.
As expected, BU steam rolled the players from Brandeis 6-1 overall, with their only loss coming in Burke’s marathon match. Burke won the first two games against a shy, diminutive Chinese freshman, who wore a T-shirt with a cartoon character printed on it – an indication of how unprofessional these guys were. But the bespectacled boy from Brandeis leveled the match at two games apiece with his scrambling and quick footwork. Clearly flustered by her opponent, Burke went onto lose the match 2-3.
With the morning session wrapped up at about 12.30 and a convincing win under their belt, Bunjapamai asked his team mates, “Who’s up for sushi?” The team gladly said yes.
At 4.15 in the afternoon, the TUFTS team walked in. With two coaches, sponsored kits and strongly built players, you could tell this was not your average club team. In fact, TUFTS squash is a varsity team and are ranked just slightly higher than BU. With the BU players rearing to go, it was surprisingly Bunjapamai who was late to come in this time. But that didn’t stop him from bossing the team once again.”Tie your shoe laces Ahaan!” he shouted through the glass door as the team warmed up.
In contrast to the morning’s play, fortunes were reversed with BU at the losing end this time. They went down 3-6 overall and clearly missed the presence of their key players. With Bunjapamai sitting out with injury and last year’s President Jacob Roscoe, amongst others, studying abroad for this semester, BU was out-rallied by TUFTS.
Play wrapped up at 7pm and Bunjapamai addressed the team as it stretched. BU is making a trip to Northeastern University this coming Saturday and hosting Boston College on Sunday. Looking forward to both of those games.