As we continue with our Alumni Spotlight project we focus on the newest sport at Dickinson College, the Red Devil squash program, and talk to 2019 alumnus Cory Litman. Cory, who is now at City Squash talks about his time in the Red and how the lessons he learned from coaches Chris Fernandez and Chris Sachvie have inspired him to teach the sport that has given him so much joy.
Cory grew up on the Main Line of Philadelphia in one of the country's major hotbeds for squash, Lower Merion. Cory's attended Lower Merion High School, which was one of the few public high schools in the country to have a squash program.
"Philadelphia is one of the hotbeds of squash," Cory stated. "You have Philadelphia, New York City and then Greenwich, Connecticut." Two of the nation's top squash programs reside in the city of Philadelphia, in the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, as well as one of the nation's premiere squash facilities, Merion Cricket Club. "You have all these boarding and private schools in the area," Cory said. "You have The Haverford School, Episcopal Academy, The Shipley School, Penn Charter, Malvern Prep, all of which who have had teams forever that attract a squash type of student."
Cory and his teammates took a lot of pride in being one of two public schools in the nation to have a squash program. "We were consistently top-15 in the country," Cory stated. "It was cool, we kind of felt like the outsider but it was something that we had pride in."
When it came time to move on to college Cory knew that squash had to be part of the equation. It was something he always wanted to be part of his collegiate experience since he started playing. "Squash in college is competitive," Cory said. "Compared to other sports there aren't a lot of programs so you really need to fight your spot."
The connection with Coach Sachvie and the Dickinson squash program was immediate for Cory and made the decision easy. The program was in its first year of existence and Coach Sachvie was in the process of building something special. "It was the first year Dickinson could take recruits so our recruiting class was massive," Cory said. "Having a young coach, whether it be Coach Sachvie or Coach Fernandez, means everything, because it is someone who you can relate to."
On the court the team was young with seven of the top nine players during Cory's first season being first-year. The first year was an adjustment for the program but the success continued for the Red Devils. The culture that was created was "awesome" according to Cory. Everyone was different but the players got along really well and Cory credited that to both Coach Sachvie and Coach Fernandez for building that culture and family mentality.
One of the very unique aspects of squash is the diversity that appears on the roster with players from all over the globe. "That's the one thing about college squash, you look at the top teams in the country their teams are ninety percent international," Cory stated. "We had a kid from Egypt, New Zealand, Netherlands, Mexico, Czech Republic, Ecuador, and the list goes on and they were all some of my best friends."
Off the court Cory came into Dickinson not knowing what he wanted to do. However, through the ability to explore the liberal arts he stumbled upon Educational Studies. "Every single class, every single professor that I had in that entire curriculum was just unbelievable," Cory stated. "It was something that I became a little passionate about and was incredibly happy with the decision I made."
Now at City Squash Cory credits a lot of the lessons he learned here at Dickinson to aiding him in his mentorship of young squash players both on the court and off. "It's kind of my Dickinson experience all wrapped up into one," Cory stated. "Being available and being easily relatable is a major lesson I learned from both Coach Fernandez and Coach Sachvie."
When Cory reflects back on his time at Dickinson being a Dickinson Red Devil, it was the team culture that gives him pride and brings him so much joy in knowing he helped cultivate that during his four years. "We had a group of guys across from across the world, who got along really well, competed, and won. So I am very proud of my time with Dickinson Squash."
Cory and his fellow classmates played an integral part of the development of the men's squash program. They saw it rise from 55th out of 62 teams in the College Squash Association to a program-best 17th in the College Squash Association standings. In the program's second year the Red Devils were awarded the Barnaby Award for most improved team and showed steady improvement as they went on to capture the Summers Cup at the CSA Team Championships in 2018. During his final season, they won the Conroy Cup to finish the year with a top-25 ranking.
Click on the link below to watch Cory's exlcusive interview.