Baldwin senior captures gold medal at Pan Am Squash Championships

Baldwin School senior Morgan Steelman recently won the gold medal in mixed doubles and the silver medal in the team competition at the Pan Am Squash Championships in Argentina for Team USA.

Morgan Steelman and Wil Hagen, in mixed doubles for Team USA, upset top-seeded Mexico before defeating Paraguay to win gold in the 2015 Pan American Junior Championships Mixed Doubles competition Sept. 3 in Resistencia, Argentina.

Steelman and Hagen, who were unseeded, twice recovered from losing the first game to win two difficult three-game matches before the final. The Americans first defeated Ecuador 9-11, 11-9, 11-10, then upset top-seeded Mexico 8-11, 11-3, 11-8 to reach the final. Steelman and Hagen only needed two games to claim gold medals against Paraguay in the final, however, cruising to victory 11-4, 11-2.

Steelman said, “Going into the [semifinal] match, we knew that the Mexican pair was very strong and we would need to play our best to have any chance of winning. We lost a close first game and needed to rethink our initial strategy. The number one boy from Mexico was playing on the left hand wall so we needed to shut him down and focus on attacking his partner on the right hand wall. This meant there was a lot of pressure on me, since I was also playing on the right hand wall. I remember feeling like I was rallying down the right hand wall against the Mexican girl for 70 minutes nonstop. When we won the match and came off court, I was exhausted, but what I will never forget was how excited Wil and I were.”

Steelman also was a member of the silver medal-winning U.S. women’s team, which entered the team competition seeded second, and fulfilled their seeding to top a group including Brasil, Guatemala, and Paraguay losing only one match in the group stages.

Steelman enjoyed her time as a member of the U.S. women’s team, and said, “Squash is an individual sport, but when I stepped on court in Argentina I never felt like I was on my own.  I knew that I was not just playing for myself, because there were three other girls who were counting on me. Team USA was so supportive and compassionate, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it.”
Steelman was visiting Resistencia, Argentina for the first time.
“The city is highly impoverished, but the people of Argentina were amazing hosts and they put on a spectacular event,” said Steelman. “The South Americans were so unbelievably friendly and tolerant of my far from fluent Spanish. One of my most memorable experiences was trading shirts with the South American girls on the last night of the tournament. Each team is given uniforms from their country’s squash federation to wear during competition. Each year there is a tradition of exchanging team uniforms before everyone heads home. It was so fun to run around the hotel knocking on different rooms, looking to trade one of my Team USA shirts for a jersey from one of my Brazilian or Guatemalan friends.
“Very few people get the honor of playing for their country and I feel so fortunate to have had this amazing opportunity. I must thank Rich Wade of US Squash for sponsoring the trip, our coaches Paul Assaiante and Fernanda Roche for their inspirational guidance, and all my teammates for such wonderful memories.”
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