I went to the University of Pennsylvania in fall, 1977. Having been on my high school tennis team, I tried out for the Penn team when I got there. The coach approached me at the end of the first day.
“Umm, you don’t need to come back tomorrow,” the tennis coach said. “But you could go try out for the squash team. They are looking for people.”
“What’s squash?” I asked.
“Go in that building and ask for the squash courts. They will tell you there.”
I went to the squash courts and met Anne Wetzel. She taught me how to play squash. Anne Wetzel was there every day. I got a private lesson Monday to Friday and by sophomore year was on the varsity squash team at Penn. Senior year I was the number two player and captain.
Being on the squash team was a major part of my college experience. We travelled all over the east coast and Canada playing matches and holiday tournaments.
Coach Wetzel was and still is a character. Having 4 children herself, she mothered us and was hard on us at the same time.
“You are too heavy on your feet,” she told me once. “You have to dance.” She held out her arms and did a waltz around the court, insisting I dance around the court, too.
She drove the van herself when we went travelling. We called her Mario Andretti. She had her own style of driving and we thanked God every time we arrived to a match alive.
Last night I attended a zoom 90th birthday party for Coach Wetzel. There were over 60 people there from all over the world that she had mentored, coached, and mothered.
Her accolades are numerous. She was a national squash champion in her day and was instrumental in getting women’s sports off the map. She has so done so much for women and squash and sports that it’s easier to google her than to list it.
I was struck by the impact that Coach Wetzel had on so many young women like myself during our college years. I took her for granted back then and didn’t appreciate her generosity, strength, tenacity, love, talent and stand for each and every one of us. Listening to everyone talk about how she made a difference in their lives was moving. She remembered all of us and was interested in our lives even after all these years.
Thank you, Coach for the difference you made for all of us. I love you and Happy Birthday!!!