I stand in a cubed battlefield awaiting Austin Oude-Reimerink’s serve, thanking God I wasn’t in the coliseum and that Oude-Reimerink and I didn’t have to fight to the death, or been cast in a Game of Thrones–style squash match—I would have been the one decapitated.

Third-year UTM commerce student Oude-Reimerink and I played a game of squash during the Squash Challenge hosted by the UTM Squash Club on Friday afternoon. The goal of the event was to introduce new and fun challenges to beginners and allow active members a chance to better their skill set and meet new members. The challenges and games against students who have a passion for the unique sport test your speed, control, and dexterity. Oude-Reimerink beat me and won Player of the Afternoon, walking away with a first-prize gift card. Other students who participated walked away having enjoyed their time.

Oude-Reimerink enjoys playing all sorts of sports in the UTM athletic facilities, whether it’s lifting weights in the high-performance centre or playing basketball with friends; squash is something that he’s good at because of his upbringing.

“I’ve been around the sport all my life, basically going to play every once in a while with my dad. My dad played varsity squash at York and still plays often at his club. I started taking it seriously in grade 12 with a couple of friends and one day we made our own squash team, winning first, second, and sixth place out of 15 players in an Ontario amateur tournament,” says Oude-Reimerink. The muscular athlete doesn’t have time to make an emotional commitment to the game right now, maybe playing “once or twice a month”.

Squash, first played in 1830 in Harrow, England and now admired by more than 30 million registered players across the world, is part of the racket sports family. Two (singles) or four (doubles) players square off in a four-walled court. The players alternate in striking the hollow rubber ball into the divided surfaces of the court. Squash is for athletes who are looking to improve or who have exceptional agility, cardio, hand-eye coordination, and durability. Even though the game seems simple at first glance, you must accommodate yourself with the plethora of strategies it takes to become good at the sport if you want to drop jaws like the Olympic squash athletes.

Ongelle-Lise Burnett, fourth-year UTM student and founder of the UTM Squash Club, came to Canada from Georgetown, Guyana wanting to bring a piece of her background and passion to UTM. Nearly two years ago, she brought together the ever-present community of people who enjoy playing squash, giving them the ability to play right on campus.

The UTM Squash Club, which hosts fundraising events in the UTM Student Centre, has three tournaments happening this February where participants will challenge the UTSG Squash Club. In March, students who participate in those events will have the opportunity to play in the National University-College tournament happening at the University of Toronto. Any newcomers in February will have the chance to play in that tournament.

Squash is an incredibly fun experience, and it is free to learn and try out here at UTM. Friends are always battling friends, getting a great workout in and enhancing their mental functioning since it’s a game of physical strength, endurance, and mental fortitude.

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