Ed Reade, 1921-2019, Legendary Squash Coach At Deerfield Academy
by Rob Dinerman

photo courtesy Ned Reade

March 24, 2019

It is with sadness but a deep appreciation of how extraordinarily well he lived his life that DSR writes to inform its readers that Ed Reade, the legendary and longtime squash coach at Deerfield Academy, passed away last week, less than 22 months before what would have been his 100th birthday in January 2021. His daughter, Kate, and her husband, Josh, were with him in his room at the Lathrop Community Center until the end, and they reported that the Hospice staff said they rarely see someone as engaged with his decisions, or as surrounded by his family’s presence and love, as Coach Reade was. He had all of his cognitive faculties throughout. Late last month he decided that his journey had gone long enough and, in consultation with Hospice, chose to stop eating and receive only a chip of ice to relieve dryness. After one week, he asked, “Why isn’t this over yet?” He wound up lasting 25 days!

  Almost immediately after graduating from Williams College, where he played No. 1 on the squash team, Mr. Reade was hired by Deerfield to teach Spanish and French and help with the squash and tennis teams as the assistant coach to Henry Poor, the father of future U. S. Squash Hall of Famer Tom Poor ‘61. He served in that capacity for five years, following which Mr. Poor moved his family to Colorado to become the Headmaster of the Fountain Valley School and Mr. Reade began a tenure as Deerfield’s head coach that lasted for 33 years from 1951-84. During that time frame, six of his teams went undefeated in dual-meet play (in ’53, ’57, ’58, ’61, ’75 and ’78) and seven others lost only once. Reade’s style and personality were less intense than Coach Poor’s had been, and his manner and approach, calm and low-key while still being impactful, were very reminiscent of HIS college coach, Clarence Chaffee of Williams College, who was known throughout the sport as the very personification of the gentleman sportsman. Reade was still in his late 20’s and a very good player at the time he took over the head coaching position, and he often played practice games with the team members after they had first gone through a drilling session on whatever aspect of the game he felt needed attention at the time. One key element of the coaching philosophy that Mr. Reade developed from fairly early on was the importance he placed on the early portion of each game, and for that matter each point. He had done some research on the matter by arranging to have his JV players tabulate every point in several of Deerfield’s varsity dual meets and had discovered that whichever player got to five points first wound up winning 75% of the games. He communicated this finding to his players and consequently urged them to do their best to take the early lead in every game, as opposed to “working their way” into the game or letting the first few points slide at the beginning of their games.

 He also was convinced that the first three hits of every point --- i.e. the serve, the serve-return and the first hit after that --- to a substantial degree determined the outcome of that point, which made him emphasize the need to hit as good a lob serve as possible, asking them to pick a spot high on the front wall and try to hit that exact spot as often as they could. He also had his players frequently practice hitting their serve-returns, especially backhand returns, high and wide along the near wall to force their opponents to the back while they established favorable court position at the tee. These tactics also had a positive psychological effect by getting the players into an aggressive mind-set right from the start of every game and each point. Deerfield won seven of the first 17 editions of the New England Interscholastic tournament (no other school won more than four during this span from 1954-70) and both Bob Hetherington ’59 (twice), later a star at Yale and two-time U. S. Nationals finalist, and Howard Coonley ’62, who would win the U. S. Intercollegiate Individual title four years later as a senior at Penn, captured the New England Interscholastic Individual crown. Other Reade protégés who later achieved significant distinction were Ted Simmons ’56, who won several U. S. National Doubles age-group titles; Poor, a many-times U. S. National age-group champion in both singles and doubles; Rick Sterne ’64, a captain of Harvard’s national championship 1967-68 team; his classmate Larry Heath, who won the U. S. National Doubles in 1982 with John Reese; Dave Talbott, who spent two years at Deerfield and was later a top-15 WPSA hardball tour pro and has been Yale’s squash coach from 1983 to the present; John Truby ’70, captain of Princeton’s 1974 national championship team; John Dinneen ’79 and his brother Peter ’81, both captains of Harvard national championship teams; and Yale captain and all-American Will Carlin ’81. In addition to the three combined New England Interscholastic Individual titles that Hetherington and Coonley amassed, there were nine Reade products who reached the final of that event, namely Simmons in ’56, Brian Johnson in ’57, Bruce Farrell in ’59, Don McAuslan in ’62, Heath in ’63, Sterne in ’64, Hugh Curry in ’66, Talbott in ’69 and Rick Moore in ’76).

  Affectionately known as “Ripper Reade” for the batting prowess he displayed in faculty softball games, Coach Reade married Florence Anne “Petey’ Hofmann in 1950 (she died in 1993) and the couple had two boys in addition to daughter Kate. His oldest son, Ned Reade ’71, made the varsity at Williams College but spent the winter of his senior year coaching Williams’s first-ever varsity women’s squash team. By the time the younger Reade was hired as an Art instructor for the 1975-76 school year at Trinity-Pawling School, a prep school in Dutchess County (a position he still holds), the coaching bit was firmly in his mouth from his experience at Williams, and he wound up coaching the boys squash team there throughout the 38-year span ending with the 2012-13 season, with one of his protégés, J. D. Cregan, winning the 1982 New England Interscholastic individual crown. Ned’s younger brother John, Deerfield class of ’73, nicknamed “Little Rip”, played varsity hockey for the Academy before switching to squash for his senior year. He went on to captain the squash and soccer teams at Hobart College and has worked in the tennis industry all his career for Peter Burwash International, which trains and places tennis pros in resorts and hotels around the world. 

A multi-sports athlete, Mr. Reade scored a hole in one at age 89 (!) and played tennis into his 90’s in addition to having played squash for more than 40 years. He spent many summers giving tennis lessons at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club and participating in tournaments in Massachusetts, Florida and Bermuda, keeping opponents at bay with his American twist serve, sharply-angled shallow forehand and the unnerving ability to play ambidextrously. He was a total gentleman who impressed everyone who came in contact with him with his sense of humor, dignity, wisdom and, most of all, grace. Contributions in Ed Reade’s honor may be made to Trinity Episcopal Church, Ocean Avenue, PO Box 2147, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. A memorial service on Martha’s Vineyard will be held during the summer months.