Harvard has announced the establishment of its 11th endowed coaching position. A generous gift from Gregory Lee ’87 and Russell Ball ’88 establishes the Gregory Lee ’87 and Russell Ball ’88 Endowed Coach for Squash. Newly appointed director of squash Mike Way will be the first coach to hold the position.
Ball and Lee, friends and former squash teammates, endowed the position in honor of their fathers, Theodore B. Lee ’54, who has been a longtime supporter and advocate for Harvard College, the Harvard Alumni Association, and Harvard Athletics, and Russell C. Ball Jr., who loved squash and used it as a vehicle to impart many life lessons: sportsmanship, humility, respect, perseverance, competition, and the power of dedication and hard work. The long tradition of excellence within the Harvard squash program was built on these principles. The Lee and Ball families hope this gift will benefit generations of Harvard squash athletes and unite the alumni in continued support of the program.
“I feel very fortunate to be in the position to give something back to the Harvard squash program,” Ball said. “When I look at the experiences I have had throughout my life, the four years at Harvard are very special. Coach [Dave] Fish was a great squash coach, educator, as well as a tremendous mentor. Although we all became much better squash players while at Harvard, the life lessons we learned helped create a foundation for future success. I also appreciate the wonderful friendships I developed as a result of playing on the squash team. The common bond we all share has helped to sustain these incredible lifelong friendships. I really appreciate the opportunity to share this gift with Greg Lee, my friend and teammate.”
“I am honored to give something back to Harvard and to the squash program, and to honor my father, Ted Lee,” Lee said. “Though my father did not play squash, he recognized that the game required the qualities he wanted to instill in me: hard work, humility, and fair play. These qualities guide my leadership, and for that I am most grateful. I was fortunate to play on teams with extraordinary players, and to learn from them every day. I learned how to play squash, how to compete and still be friends, and how to measure my success by my own improvement. My experience at Harvard and playing squash gave me lifelong friendships that continue to enrich my life. I am honored to be able to share this gift with my good friend, Russ Ball.”
Dave Fish ’72, the Scott Mead ’77 Family Head Coach for Men’s Tennis, had the honor of coaching both Ball and Lee on the squash team. “It is gratifying to see two players from some of Harvard’s greatest teams of the 1980s step up so generously to endow the Harvard squash coaching position,” Fish said. “Both Russ and Greg always put the team first when they were members of the team, and have continued in the same spirit now. I’m sure they are both delighted as I am that Michael Way will be the first Harvard coach to benefit from their support.
“Also, having had the good fortune to know and admire their parents, their support also reflects admirably on the lessons of their parents, who were also generous stewards of Harvard and other institutions. This gift will enable Harvard to attract squash coaches of the finest caliber, now and in the future.”
Harvard won four Ivy League and national team titles during Ball and Lee’s time at Harvard. Ball was a three-time All-American, four-time first-team All-Ivy League recipient, and served as captain in 1988.
Bob Scalise, the Nichols Family Director of Athletics, noted the endowment strengthens one of Harvard’s most successful programs. The Crimson has won 31 men’s and 12 women’s national titles, including the women’s crown in 2010. “The sport of squash at Harvard has earned more national championships than any other sport and has a tradition of educating our students in sport and life. I am thrilled that Russ and Greg stepped up to give us a chance to highlight what an exceptional program we have.”