U.Va. celebrates McArthur Squash Center Debut
Grand Opening Festival unveils $12.4 million facility
The University squash community united Thursday at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new McArthur Squash Center at Boar’s Head Sports Club, marking its official opening, though the center became available for use in April. The $12.4 million, 33,000-square-foot facility’s opening coincides with the Grand Opening Festival of Squash, which includes a series of tournaments and events at the center that last until Sunday.
Construction of the McArthur Squash Center was completed with a major donation from Jaffray Woodriff, a Commerce School graduate, and his charity the Quantitative Foundation. Woodriff joined the squash community at the launch ceremony to deliver a presentation about the center and its beginning.
“Jaffray Woodriff, trustee of Quantitative Foundation, had the initial idea to approach U.Va. about a grant to build a squash facility,” said Francis Johnson, program director at the Quantitative Foundation. “He is passionate about both squash and U.Va.”
Prior to McArthur’s opening this spring, the University’s squash teams struggled to find a regular practice schedule. The team played most at the courts at St. Anne’s-Belfield School, where members were able to play for an hour-long slot every other day after the school’s own team finished.
“Having this facility, we can come whenever we want, we can arrange our own practice times,” said Celia Dyer, a third-year Engineering student and one of the women’s squash team co-captains. “We’re playing along with the Charlottesville community too. We all play on Thursday nights with local squash players … so it’s a great way to tie everyone together.”
Mark Allen, head coach of the squash teams and director of the center, hopes to utilize the facility to build the University’s squash program and attract prospective players and competition.
“The combination of having the new facility and then having myself here as a full-time coach for the program, which they’ve never had before, is going to be building hopefully a strong club squash program and then hopefully a very broad intramural program at U.Va. as well,” Allen said.
Until recently, the major squash magnets in the United States were confined to the Northeast, particularly in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. As the interest in squash spreads further south along the East Coast, the presence of a state of the art squash facility in Charlottesville will become an integral aspect to the sport’s competition and tournament patterns.
“The Philadelphia, New York area is this country’s center for squash,” said Tim Rose, chief executive officer of the U.Va. Foundation, in a press release. “But as squash wants to continue to grow and expand it needs to move in other directions. And Charlottesville is really an obvious choice for the next place for squash to go.”