Wendy Bartlett, Women’s Squash Head Coach of 40 Years, Announces her Retirement

6 min read

Annika Dyczkowski ’25

Sports Editor

After 40 years with the Trinity women’s squash program, guiding the Bantams to their fourth Howe Cup title and finishing the 2023-24 season with a perfect 17-0 record, head coach Wendy Bartlett announced her retirement last Wednesday, March 20. Bartlett has a multitude of personal accolades, as well as team and player successes that reflect her impact at Trinity. Surprisingly, however, her wildly accomplished career stems from humble beginnings.

Bartlett’s introduction to coaching squash was an unusual one which “couldn’t happen nowadays,” she told Squash Magazine in 2018. After moving to Hartford in 1983, she met Trinity’s tennis and squash coach, Becky Chase, and began playing squash with her in her free time. One year later, in August, Chase received a job offer at Yale to coach tennis, leaving Trinity with no prospective coach for either the women’s squash or tennis team. Bartlett had no experience coaching squash, having only played it recreationally, yet Chase pleaded: “Wendy, you’ve got to take the job.” 

Bartlett recalls the night before her first day, watching Chase pack up her office at midnight and handing Bartlett the key. Former Trinity Athletic Director Rick Hazelton called her the next morning and told her, “We’ll try you for a year.” Bartlett was incredibly dedicated to becoming a successful coach, telling Squash Magazine that her mentor was Bob Callahan at Princeton. 

Bartlett saw her first Howe Cup Title in 2002 and again in 2003, culminating two perfect seasons for a 25-0 record combined. Since then, women’s squash has seen incredible success like never before, winning the Howe Cup again in 2014 and for a fourth time this past season. In between winning national titles, Bartlett has guided the team to runner-up titles in 2004, 2006, 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2023 after falling 5-4 to Harvard University. Including this past season, Bartlett has coached the Bantams to 17 consecutive New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship (NESCAC) titles.

Individually, Bartlett was inducted into the College Squash Association (CSA) Hall of Fame in 2019 and crowned NESCAC Coach of the Year five times, most recently in the 2022-23 season. In addition to squash, Bartlett is involved with Trinity as a Professor of Physical Education and was head coach of the women’s tennis team from 1984-2015. 

Bartlett heavily advocates for women in sports, and stated in an interview with the Tripod last March that her biggest inspiration is other female coaches, because “[they]  have really had to fight their way to be where they are, because certainly 39, 40 years ago, it wasn’t easy to be a female coach… The whole lifestyle was tough and it took a lot of sacrifices.” She continues on, discussing female athletes, saying, “I really feel that athletics are so important to girls and women for developing life skills.” Bartlett has made a remarkable impact on Trinity women’s squash, but what her current players have to share is most notable and distinguishes her from other college coaches. 

Janna El Ashmawy ’25 from Alexandria, Egypt, speaks on her close-knit relationship with Bartlett. “She was more than a coach to me, she supported me in any way she could,” said El Ashmawy. “We had our own way of communicating that no one understood but us. I cannot picture anyone else sitting, or standing because she never sat down, in her office… it will never be the same.” 

Fabiola Cabello ’26 from Guadalajara, Mexico, states that Bartlett changed her life after she stepped away from playing after seven years of representing the Mexican Squash Team. “Coach Wendy, however, presented me with an offer I couldn’t refuse: to join a diverse squash team comprised of women from around the world, all while receiving a high-level education,” said Cabello. Speaking on Bartlett’s character, she said, “Coach Wendy has taught me the value of working towards a greater purpose. I feel incredibly fortunate to have crossed paths with her, and I am certain that the family she has cultivated over the past 40 years will always admire her resilience and leadership.”

Lulu Palacios Benitez ’25 from Asuncion, Paraguay, recalls the first time she met Bartlett in 2017. “I didn’t speak much English and somehow I understood everything she told me. From that day on I knew my life was going to change for the better. I [will] never forget that day, I am so grateful for her and everything [she] did for me.” Palacios Benitez recalls her favorite memory with Bartlett at Individual Nationals this past season. “She said to me, “Lulu, this is the first time that I fully enjoyed and laughed watching a squash match, you had fun and your big smile made me have a great time. Thank you for that!””

Adalisa Advic, the team’s manager, speaks to Bartlett’s determination, saying that “She’s always ready to fight for the team… if the team needed it by any means she would get it. This team is her life, and she will forever be a part of mine.”

Zaynab Khan ’26 from Karachi, Pakistan, describes how Bartlett made a lasting impact on herself and her teammates, on and off the hardwood. “Coach Wendy has not only pushed this team to win national championships, but has also been a mentor and amazing example to all of us, [showing us] how unwavering commitment and hard work always pays off.” She speaks more to Bartlett’s transformation of Trinity women’s squash, how “This program and this team would be nothing without her, and we will miss her immensely as she has been such a huge part of our time here at Trinity.”

Madeleine Hylland ’24, a co-captain from Baerum, Norway, speaks on her relationship with Bartlett over her time at Trinity. “Anytime I had a problem she was the first [person] I’d call, sometimes I did not even have to call. I think I would have fallen apart at one point if she was not there to pick me up,” Hylland said. “She would do anything for the team and she will always be my coach.”

Nouran Youssef ’24, a co-captain from Smouha, Egypt, shares a similar sentiment as Hylland. “To me Coach Wendy isn’t just my coach, she is like my second mom. I couldn’t have been where I’m at today if it wasn’t for her.” She shares her favorite memory with Bartlett, when the team was tied 4-4, competing away against Drexel and Youssef was playing the deciding match. “I was super nervous. She came up to me and told me, ‘If I can trust anyone to win that match, it will be you. Go in there and play your game and no matter what the result is, I’m always proud of you.’” Youssef won her match 3-2 to clinch a 5-4 victory for the Bantams. “She was able to calm me down, but also let me know that I can and will do it. That’s when you know you have the best head coach ever.”

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