Instead of hopping on and off flights every six days for tournaments and aiming for targets the width of a floor-board on the side wall of a squash court, you will now find me sitting quietly reading a textbook. I have hung up my squash racquet to study medicine at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
I am amazed at how quickly my life has transitioned from one of training physically for squash matches to one of training my mind for exams. For two years I have known that my retirement from the professional tour was imminent because I was dealing with recurring injuries. Half my training time was spent in the gym. I strengthened my core so my lower back wouldn’t collapse during the thousands of lunges required in a match. And I attended yoga classes to stretch my legs because my tight calves and hamstrings caused my hips, knees and feet to ache.
I knew that to retire from squash, a sport that has been the focus of my life for two decades, I had to find something that I loved as much. That is a tall order because for the past seven years I have enjoyed a life of earning a modest income competing while travelling to different cultures. I’ve been hosted by many gracious squash communities and I’ve appreciated many afternoon recovery naps. Now I have found that something—medicine.
I love studying the body. And my love even stands during exams when a walk to local grocery seems too indulgent to justify the time from my notes. My background in squash has made my courses interesting. In my anatomy class, when working with cadavers, muscle names are easy to remember since I know the pain of a strain in many of them. And I can easily think back to the feeling of headache and nausea when the partial pressure of oxygen drops at altitude in Calgary and Mexico City.
My last competitive match was the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Although I enjoy my classes and my new life in academia, I miss the squash scene. I keenly follow WISPA tournament results and the progress of juniors at my home club in Winnipeg. I miss the feeling of pressure at ten-all in the fifth game, I miss the banter that happens around the courts and I miss all you squash players.
Once my schedule eases up I plan to get back to the courts and I look forward to seeing you there!