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Pingry Welcomes New Talent to Oversee Squash Programming
adawson

Pingry is pleased to announce the arrival of two new squash professionals to direct the school's vibrant, growing squash program. Mr. Chad Smith will serve as Director of Squash and Mr. Francis Odeh will serve as Assistant Director and will assume the role of Head Coach of the Girls' Varsity Squash Team.  


Mr. Smith joins the Pingry community from The Lawrenceville School, where he served as head squash coach for the boys' varsity team for the last two years. During this time, he was also an assistant lacrosse coach for the school. Prior to Lawrenceville, Mr. Smith was head coach of the middle and high school squash teams at the Stuart School. 

For the last 18 months, Mr. Smith has also served as a professional coach at the New Jersey Squash Club in Lawrenceville, Coppermine Racquets Club in Towson, Maryland, and Dread Sports Club in Timonium, Maryland, where he worked alongside prominent coach Lefika Ragontse and gave private and semi-private clinics and ran summer camps. Additionally, he has been a coach with Princeton Junior Squash, an assistant squash pro at the Pretty Brook Tennis Club, and has officiated at collegiate men's and women's matches and tournament summer training camps at Princeton University. Among the highly-ranked collegiate players he has coached are Scarlett Bergam (Brown), Kenan Ong (Cornell), Claude Smith (Williams), and Pingry's own Sam Scherl '17 (Harvard).

Having grown up training with professional squash coaches Attila Agh (Hungary) and Ian Brown (Jamaica) as part of Geoff Mitchell's squash program at the Chatham Club, Mr. Smith was a successful junior squash player, competing in the junior tournament circuit from 2003–2007. His personal best U.S. ranking of #2 came in 2005 and, in 2007, he finished fifth in U.S. Squash Nationals. Also in 2005, he represented the U.S. in the boys' under-13 Canada-American International Challenge and finished ninth in the Scottish Jr. Open. A graduate of Madison High School, Mr. Smith earned a B.A. in Business in 2015 from Roanoke University.


 

Mr. Odeh's squash career began in Nigeria more than 30 years ago, where he earned a #1 national ranking as both an adult (1994–1995) and junior (1986–1988) player. He represented his country at numerous World and African Championships before arriving in the U.S. in 1995. The winner or semifinalist in dozens of Open and U.S. Squash tournaments in the U.S. and abroad, including the Brown University Pro/Am (1998) and the Dartmouth/Pro Am Open (1998, 2000, 2001), Mr. Odeh's success in the sport continues. In 2011, he earned the U.S. Squash Nationals 40+ crown and was a semifinalist in the 45+ category of the same tournament in 2016 and 2017. He is currently a member of the U.S Master's Team.

Mr. Odeh, who holds a US Squash Level 2 Coaching Certification, brings over 25 years of coaching experience to bear as he takes the helm of the Girls' Varsity Squash Team and serves as overall School Squash Coach for Pingry squash programs. He has served as a Squash Pro at the New York Sports Club and Downtown Athletics Club, both in New York City, as well as at The Club at Ricochet in South Plainfield, and Valkyrie Squash Club and Monmouth Squash Club in Sea Bright. Mr. Odeh earned a B.A. in Physical Education and Sports at Lagos State University.

He has worked with numerous junior and adult squash players in the U.S. and abroad, including such notable athletes as former Nigeria #1 and PSA world ranked Ehimen Ehalen and U.S. #4 and PSA world ranked Christopher Cordon. He also has extensive experience coaching several of Pingry's very own, including Peter Cipriano, who played for Bowdoin College, Chloe Blacker and Jonathan Zeitels (University of Pennsylvania), and Julia '17 and Diana '15 Masch (Columbia University).

Head Coach of the Boys' Varsity Squash Team, Ramsay Vehslage, has known Mr. Odeh for over 15 years and says he is very excited to have him join the program. For her part, Director of Upper School Athletics Carter Abbott noted, "Francis brings a wealth of coaching experience to our squash program. His enthusiasm and knowledge will serve as a great combination for continued success for Pingry squash."


Contact: Andrea Dawson, Senior Writer, adawson@pingry.org