He’ll make a Stark difference

The Cayman Islands National Squash Association recently appointed a new national coach in Canadian veteran Glenn Stark who brings a wealth of talent to the post.

He has been hired to lead the programme and brings over 20 years of coaching expertise with him and will broaden the existing successful squash programme.

Stark, 47, is a Level 4 International Squash Coach and is near completion on his Level 5 Squash coaching certification – the highest level of qualification possible. He arrived from Calgary with wife Amanda, an Australian, who was a top player herself for many years. She is a graphic designer.

He was coach of the Canadian junior women’s squash team for the last eight years and travelled and coached junior players to every level of international competition at the highest level throughout the world.

Stark brings not only expertise at coaching at the highest level, but also has nurtured many junior players at the earliest introduction to the game of squash and coached them into Canadian national champions.

His role is two-fold – to grow a grassroots squash programme open to all Cayman Islands children as well as to provide top-level coaching for the elite players of each age group.

His task is to hone their skills and raise their levels of play through intense and multifaceted training centred on fitness, strategy and skills. He takes over from Dean Watson who himself did a marvellous job for six years and is now a squash pro on the island.

“I am very excited to arrive to the Cayman Islands into a programme that has so many juniors excited about squash already,” Stark said. “In Cayman, squash is a leading sport in terms of organisation, the support it receives from private, government and the public as a whole and with so much potential for growth and success in the short and long term.”

While international success with a programme is always a good thing, Stark is even more excited by the squash association’s goal of expanding squash at every level to as many children as possible.

“As a squash pro that has had success at every level, the simplest pleasures of coaching a beginner and seeing the joy and pleasure on their faces that express how good they feel hitting a squash ball around the court properly, and that drive to get better and better at doing it is a reward that is truly satisfying as a coach. It never gets old.

“CINSA and my own primary goal is to give Cayman’s youth the opportunity to be introduced enthusiastically with proper coaching to squash. We will setting up inter-school team and individual leagues and expect to see the programme grow from around 80 regular participants to over 200 active junior players this year.

“I would like to take the successes of Mr. Watson’s programme of the past six years and expand and grow the programme to encompass and include enthusiastic players from all over the island, some of whom have never even thought about playing squash. And. with the cooperation of the schools, give them all the tools – court time, equipment and coaching – needed to make the game of squash fun, exciting and important part of a healthy lifestyle.”

One of Stark’s first tasks when he arrived in October was to meet with local schools to organise their squash programmes within their curriculum and offer his coaching expertise. He is creating a daily after-schools programme for junior players of all ages with structured goals for students to improve and compete with other students of their level.

The club at South Sound hosted the inaugural Cayman Junior Open two weeks ago which attracted competitors from the Caribbean, US and Canada, which was a big success. “Now we’re concentrating on the Jamaican Junior Open in April and also the Cayman Open, which will see the world’s best women and Ramy Ashour who until recently was the world’s no.1 male player.” Egyptian Ashour is now No.2 to England’s Nick Mathew.

The Starks have settled in well and needless to say, are enjoying the weather here, after being in the freezing temperatures of Canada. They were back there for the Christmas holidays and were thankful of leaving the minus-25 degree temperatures.

Apart from Cayman’s excellent weather, Stark is impressed with the wonderful organisation of the squash association here. “The organisation as far as Janet Sairsingh (director) and Jeff Broderick (president) is concerned is excellent. The whole club set up and helpfulness of the members is great.”