What: The Paul D. Assaiante Professorship of Physical Education was endowed in 2011 with gifts from alumni, parents and friends in honor of Paul D. Assaiante P’06, associate professor of physical education and head coach of the men’s tennis and squash teams. Assaiante, who is the first person to hold the chair, will deliver an inaugural lecture entitled, “College Athletics Today: Losing Ownership of Their Journey.”
The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will immediately follow his talk.
When: Thursday, March 6 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: George A. Kellner Squash Center, Ferris Athletic Center on the Trinity campus, 300 Summit Street.
Background: The Paul D. Assaiante Professorship of Physical Education is the first endowed professorship of athletics at Trinity. Under Assaiante’s leadership, the men’s squash team has won 14 national championships in 16 years. At one point, it notched victories in 252 consecutive matches, the longest winning streak in collegiate varsity sports history.
This year, Trinity’s men’s squash team was the runner-up to Harvard in the national championship match. However, the Trinity men’s team took top honors in 2013.
Prior to that, the squash team had won the national championship from 1999 to 2011. The team’s undefeated win streak, which was broken in 2012, had been the longest in collegiate varsity sports history, besting the Yale men’s swimming team streak of 201 wins from 1940 through 1961.
A resident of West Hartford, CT, Assaiante got his start in coaching at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point before arriving at Trinity in 1994. He has been the coach of the U.S. national squash team as well as the U.S. Olympic Coach of the Year.
In 2010, Assaiante wrote, with co-author James Zug, Run to the Roar: Coaching to Overcome Fear, which told the story of one of the most successful dynasties in the history of U.S. collegiate varsity sports. Of the book, Assaiante said, “This is not a book about squash. It is about leadership. It is about pride, about instinct, control, about anger management, about talent, about mentoring. These are universal issues that every parent and every coach faces.”
The book is centered on a single contest – the February 2009 national championship match against Princeton University. But the book is also about Assaiante’s infectious passion for the sport, his successful coaching philosophy (face your fears head-on), and how he recruits talented young men from around the world, molds them into a team and drives them to achieve unparalleled success.
Tom Wolfe, the best-selling author and journalist whose son, Tommy, played squash at Trinity, wrote the book’s forward. “Run to the Roar is one of those rare sports books, like Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, that quite effortlessly starts you thinking about life far beyond the confines of the sport itself,” said Wolfe. “Assaiante provides a lesson in 21st century global psychology. He describes how he turned athletes from 19 countries and every continent on the globe except Antarctica, all of them ambitious and many of them hot-dogging egotists, into brotherly-loving, team-spirited, one-for-all-and-all-for-one creatures within their own ranks…and implacable warriors on the court.”
In October 2010, Trinity dedicated its tournament-level tennis facilities in honor of Assaiante.