Wade Close, Jr. ’55
by Emily Groff
A squash champion at Trinity. . . 50 years after graduation!
As a student at Trinity, Wade Close, Class of 1955, played soccer, squash, and tennis. He was captain of the soccer team and an All-New England player, played number one and number two in squash, and won the McCook Trophy for athletic achievement. While he says, “As a three-sport guy, I didn’t have much time for studies,” he was inspired by Professor George Cooper to major in history, and was also a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and the Medusa, a select group of seven students chosen to advise the Dean of Students.
Today, Trinity’s squash team is the best in the country, but it wasn’t always that way. As a squash player at Trinity in the 1950s, Close “learned how to be a good loser. Trinity did not have a good squash team at the time, and I was playing the number ones and number twos at Yale and Princeton. During the three years I played varsity squash, the team’s record was 23 losses to four wins.” While he may not have won often, Close did learn plenty. He says, “Losing was a wonderful experience—I learned to be a gentleman. Losing then did more good for me than anything else.”
After graduation, Close moved to Pittsburgh to work for the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation in industrial sales. While squash hadn’t been very big at Trinity, it was huge in Pittsburgh. World champion Hashem Khan was the squash pro at Close’s club, and Close’s game quickly improved. He played for Michigan and Ohio nationally and competed on the U.S. team against Canada. At age 35, he started competing in age tournaments. At 40, he was among the top 20 squash players in the country; at 50, he was in the top 10; and at 60, he was the national champion in his age group.
Today, Close is 76, and he is still playing squash. He is also a managing director at Boyden Global Executive Search, where he spends most of his time networking and trying to meet the perfect candidate for his client firms. He says it’s easy to balance his squash game with his career. In fact, traveling for games has helped him network. “As a search consultant, the more people you know, the better chance you have of finding a great candidate for your client. Traveling to different cities and meeting new people has given me many useful contacts and has been a huge value.”
While Close will retire soon, he has no plans to stop playing squash. This
March, Trinity hosted the U.S. squash championships, and he competed in the 75+
division. When he heard where he would be playing, Close couldn’t wait to get in
shape. He immediately started training, even doing wind sprints, which he called
“absurd” at his age, but he “really wanted to win at Trinity.” He faced off
against an opponent he lost to in the finals five years ago, but this time, he
beat him easily. More than 50 years after his graduation, Close is a squash
champion at Trinity.
Wade Closes’s classmate, Bob Mulaney ’55, has prepared an article on Closes’s tournament at Trinity, which can be found on page 2.