By CHRIS PERRELLI
The 2014 Women’s National Squash Team Championships are taking place this week at the White Oaks Resort and Spa. While this is a time of excitement for Squash Canada and the White Oaks, it is also a time of remembrance for the man who made this event possible.
Mark Sachvie, president of Squash Ontario, passed away suddenly last November from a fatal heart attack. He was widely recognized throughout Canada as one of the most influential builders of the game of squash and played a major role in bringing the Women’s National Team Championships to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
He hosted over 220 squash tournaments during his tenure including 10 Canadian Junior Opens, two Canadian Junior Squash Championships, two Canadian Squash Championships and 43 Provincial Championships.
When it comes to Sachvie’s legacy, the term “passion” is never too far behind his name.
“His passion just spread, and that translated to all the kids,” said Sandra Lynch, memberships relations director at White Oaks. “He treated all the kids in the junior squash program like they were his own. So, when you have that much love and passion for the game, it’s going to be successful.”
“That passion spread through all of Ontario, and the whole country, and it’s amazing that one person could do all that. His personality was bigger than anyone and his love for the game is what made him so successful.”
It was that passion that allowed Sachvie to place over 100 kids in U.S. college programs, including his three children Chris, Lauren, and Nick, who all attended Cornell University.
“He treated everyone he taught like his kids or his friends and really tried to nurture everyone,” said Danny Da Costa, executive director of Squash Canada. “He was one of those types of people that you could instantly become friends with. He was just so engaging and you always knew where you stood with him.”
“For Mark, it was always about the kids, the program and the White Oaks,” said Lynch. “The kids were always here and Mark made squash a family tradition. That’s why the whole squash community loved him and he loved them, and he loved squash.”
His love of the game, and his nurturing personality created a culture around the club that has been sustained for over 30 years.
“He really believed in creating a culture that was sustainable long-term,” said Da Costa. “What he’s tried to do over three generations is make the game more popular and make it something that people will want to come to the facility and play. He made everyone feel special and made everyone feel comfortable to be around.”
Michael Wakil, friend of Sachvie’s from early in White Oaks’ existence, says, “To this day, White Oaks is a gathering place. Mark helped to set that stage, and three decades later it’s still the case. He created a squash program that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Canada. There are grown men and women in the program now who started playing under Mark as kids. It’s a huge legacy, it’s remarkable.”
The club at White Oaks recently honoured Sachvie by naming its squash facility “The Mark Sachvie Squash Centre” and also by inducting him into the Squash Canada Hall of Fame.
“He’s irreplaceable. There will probably never be another Mark Sachvie,” said Lynch. “He was so passionate, not only about squash, but about his kids and his family as well. We’re definitely going to miss that around here.”