I wanted to get an interview with Jaycee Spagrud for a number of reasons. First, I had recently caught wind that she is taking her squash game right to the top at the National Squash Academy (NSA) in Toronto. She has been killing it, both nationally and internationally in the squash world for a long time now, and it's pretty exciting to see someone from Saskatoon take it to that level. Secondly, Jaycee is one of the founding members of The Pink Wig Foundation, an organization aimed at offering financial help to cancer patients and their families. The PWF is putting on a really innovative fundraiser party on the 15th that we're involved in called The Alley Rally and Strike a Pose Fashion Show, and I was hoping she could offer a bit more information on it. Thirdly, Jaycee is a joy to be around and is a great role model for younger girls. I'd like to share her story/successes with as many people as possible.
C - How did the opportunity to attend the NSA come about? Where will it take you?
J - About a year ago, Shefali Thakore, a squash friend of mine encouraged me to broaden my squash horizons by leaving Saskatchewan and testing myself against the best players in Canada at the NSA. I was a bit apprehensive about the idea initially because I was worried I would be out of my league against actual professionals. However, a top ten finish at the Nationals in May was an encouraging sign that I could hold my own at that level despite not being a full-time pro myself. With the aid of my friend and squash mentor, Bob Wyma, and his connections to Squash Canada, the opportunity to train at the NSA became a reality. Saskatchewan Squash also encouraged this venture and has kindly given me financial support. I hope my time here will raise my standard of play to the point where I am beating all the non-pro women in Canada, and leave me able to give the very best women a good test.
C - What is it about the sport that draws you to it?
J - The appeal of squash comes mainly from the individual competition aspect. The responsibility of performing rests solely on you; from preparing, to believing in yourself, to actually playing well. The glories and the disappointments are completely on your shoulders. That is what makes competing exciting for me, and would be a pretty common answer from all squash players. It is also a huge tactical challenge; keeping your opponent guessing, moving them around the court and finally hitting a winning shot.
C - What are some of the great experiences playing has allowed you so far?
J - Travelling to tournaments around North America as a junior, and playing various leagues in Europe while I lived there were obviously very cool experiences. Squash is a global sport, and it is awesome to see people halfway around the world enjoying the game for the same reasons I do. Coaching has also been very fulfilling for me. After my last year as a junior my coach Bob Wyma and I started a junior program at the Saskatoon YMCA, where we were able to see kids develop week by week under our guidance which was definitely very rewarding.
C - You’ve been at the academy just a short while. Has it been tough on you, or a breeze?
J - Training here is very intense and worlds apart from anything I’ve done before. We generally have three sessions a day (two squash, one gym). Doing one day isn’t particularly difficult, but getting up day after day and doing it again becomes a bit taxing. The other players here are great though; they are used to this routine and provide the motivation I need to put in a good effort every day.
C - You are also involved heavily in the Pink Wig Foundation. Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming fundraiser?
J - The members of the Pink Wig Foundation have collaborated and come up with some ideas on how we can make this next fundraiser an amazing party and still raise money to fulfill our dear friend Tracy Dinh’s wish of relieving the financial burdens of cancer patients and their families. The next fundraiser is taking place at Fairhaven Bowl on Saturday, September 15 and has been named the “Alley Rally & Strike A Pose Fashion Show”. Tickets are $25 dollars and will include a night’s worth of bowling, a bowling tournament, prizes and some fashion shows you will not want to miss. There will also be DJ sets from Conky Showpony, Chris Astro, and Torch which will run throughout the night. There's no question it will be a fun night, and for a great cause, so come out and support!
Jaycee with Tracy Dinh (the inspiration and legacy behind the PWF)