Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Rites of Passage -- The Squash Khans of LA Fitness

Asad Khan is one of the better players at our club, LA Fitness, in Lake Success, New York. About 5 months ago he asked me to start coaching his son, Ali, a straight A ninth grade student. Asad played intrmural hardball squash at SUNY Stony Brook in the hey day of hard ball, on courts built by a generous alumni contribution from the great pro-hard baller, Stu Goldstein. Harry Gordon, who plays out of Sports Club/LA was on that intramural team. Anyways, it's always great to talk with Asad about the hard ball glory days, we both remember many of the great players, both professionals and amateurs. Asad adapted very well to the softball game where he can demonstrate that deft, economic volley stroke hard ballers had as he directs the balls to reverse corners, nicks, and solid cross courts. Some of his less experienced opponents are flustered by this kind of shot making because you can see they don't really watch the ball as well as they should and the cross reverses are especially troublesome. I coached Ali for awhile and he began to really show signs of improvement. Technically, he had numerous problems in his preparation, racquet striking and movement skills. We worked extensively in all three areas over time. He started showing improvement, but what impressed me the most was Ali's spirit and desire to improve. He works very hard and made the sessions easy from a standpoint of motivation and coaching. I applauded his effort and strong desire to improve. They took a break from lessons for a while and I received an email from Asad recently saying he wanted to start Ali back with the lessons. Okay, that's good, but what really struck me about the email was Asad's description of his son's developing passion for the game. He always wants to be on the court. The words leapt out from the email, Asad is not one to exaggerate, so it meant so much to me that a father, like myself and my son, can now embark on this very special path and bond through their shared passion for squash. From experience, there's probably nothing like it in the universe, when your child shares your own passion for a game like squash, a game you introduced him to. As Ali returns back into the lesson fold, we are on a mission, to teach him and guide him to a level where he can compete against, and hopefully, eventually beat his father. As my son moves in a different direction with squash, I know the time will come soon enough where we won't be training partners anymore and won't play our early a.m. cathartic's all changing. I've been given a gift beyond my wildest expectation, that my son, has this great passion to play and compete in squash. I hope as the months and years unfold, that Asad will cherish that same gift, and when Ali does eventually beat him (confident as I am as a coach and Ali's desire/goal to beat his father at squash), that it will be a time when with each match father and son play it's squash imitating life as his son, as mine has, moved through the rites of passage to young adulthood.

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