George E. Haines, Jr., 1943-2008, Legendary Coach At Haverford School
by Rob Dinerman

August 16, 2008
--- George E. Haines, 64, who passed away on July 16, was a legendary squash coach from 1976-89 at the Haverford School in suburban Philadelphia who produced multiple regional Philadelphia-area high school regional championships, several winners of U. S. national doubles and singles championships and one squad in particular, namely the 1982-83 squash team, that two years ago became the only TEAM inductee into the Haverford Hall Of Fame.

Born on August 8, 1943, Haines grew up in Far Hills, NJ, eventually excelling in both golf (a two-time winner of the NJ Amateur who also qualified one year to play in the U. S. Open) and squash, playing each sport with distinction at the University Of Pennsylvania, from whose prestigious Wharton School Of Business he earned a degree in 1965. After authoring a number of respected golf articles and histories, he taught at Westtown School and Germantown Academy before joining the Haverford faculty as a math teacher and coach of no fewer than six different sports at one time or another during his tenure. His soccer, golf and squash teams won a total of 17 Inter-Ac League Championships and, as noted, the 1982-83 squash team was destined for a singular distinction.

More than three hundred people jammed the Neil Buckley Pavilion at The Haverford School on the evening of February 25, 2006, when that team joined 43 individual members in the school’s Hall Of Fame. This was only the second squash-related Haverford School induction ceremony (the previous honoree being Ralph E. Howe, class of ’59, who was elected into the USSRA Hall Of Fame in the inaugural class of 2003 after a career in which he was U. S. National and North American Open champion in both singles and doubles) and, as noted, the first time that a TEAM in any sport was given this level of recognition by the prominent suburban-Philadelphia school.

The squad went undefeated in Inter-AC competition that year and even pounded (eight matches to one) a Dartmouth team that was ranked sixth in the college standings. Amazingly, no fewer than NINE of the 10 team members went on to captain highly-ranked college teams, and it can be safely said that that varsity left a legacy that profoundly influenced both college squash during the second half of the 1980’s and the amateur and professional game throughout the 1990’s and extending even up to the present time.

The No. 1 position that year was split between Morris Clothier ‘83, who co-captained Franklin & Marshall to the No. 2 intercollegiate team ranking in 1986-87 and who went on to record his ninth U. S. National Doubles title last spring, a record for a right-wall player, and Russ Ball ‘84, who starred on four national-champion teams at Harvard and reached the final of the U. S. National Singles his senior year. Behind them were Chris Spahr ’83 and Beau Buford ’84, Clothier’s F & M teammates and later multi-titled doubles players in their own rights; Spahr’s younger brother Terry ’84, who starred at the University of Pennsylvania and later won both the Atlantic Coast and Woodruff-Nee championships in the early-1990’s; George Krall ’83, Bruce Hauptfuhrer ’83 (a Woodruff-Nee finalist in ’89), Alex Cuthbert ’83 and Dan Hutchinson ’85, who would subsequently serve as team captains at Yale, Trinity, Dartmouth and Harvard respectively; and Robert Hobbs ’85.

Haines’s success and longevity were all the more noteworthy for coming in spite of a serious life-threatening brain tumor that hospitalized him for months during the late 1970’s, and he is fondly remembered for the genuineness of his interest in the squash people he came to know (Palmer Page recently recalled a long visit he received from Haines shortly after Page’s years as USSRA CEO began and the contribution that Haines sent him shortly thereafter as a sign of support) and even more so for the longstanding nature of the loyalty to showed to his former protégés long after they had graduated. Tom Harrity ’80, winner of five U. S. National hardball titles during the 2000’s, gratefully noted that Haines showed up in the Merion Cricket Club gallery even as recently as the ’05 hardball final to cheer him on, and how Haines made a point of seeking him out and discussing the match in the locker room afterwards. A number of his former players have been exchanging emails in recent weeks after hearing of Haines’s passing (in Cathedral Village in Roxborough, PA, from pneumonia) citing the “tons of support for me” that Haines demonstrated and planning to fund some tangible recognition (like a plaque or bench) in the school’s squash facility, where Haines had such a valuable and lasting an impact on his young charges for more than a dozen victory-filled years.

Haines is survived by Elizabeth, his wife of 31 years; a son, George; a grandson; both parents; two sisters and a brother.

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