A teenager, Jamie Nicholls, was working part-time at the Toronto Racquet Club in 1997 when he got a first-hand look at the soon-to-be Canadian squash kings.
Coach Mike Way ushered a who’s who of local talent onto the pitches at the downtown facility. The masterful magic of Jonathon Power and the razor-sharp shots of Graham Ryding were on display alongside many other players.
Way pulled the strings there and helped lead a Canadian rise to the top of the sport.
“Not only the people he brought up in a playful way, but also in a coaching way.”
Way, who is now a coach at Harvard University, will be recognized for his remarkable career by being inducted into the Canadian Squash Hall of Fame on Saturday.
“You want to be able to look back with pride and look back on it really fondly, and I do that,” Way said. “And that would be my hope [the players].”
Originally from Nottingham, England, Way moved to Toronto in 1981 to take a six-month coaching job with the Ontario Racquet Club. A strong player as a young adult, coaching quickly became a passion.
“I think his biggest asset is that he has so much knowledge about the game,” said Nicholls. “But he is always ready to change and adapt. He was constantly looking for new information, anything that could be absorbed and added to his coaching toolbox.”
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Way spent his formative years coaching at various clubs in southern Ontario. He often invited top coaches and ex-pros to work with his top players and juniors.
“I would try to pick their brains for anything that would work,” he said in a recent interview.
Power would lead the Canadian lead on the pro circuit and become the first North American to reach No. 1 in the world.
Way helped guide him to a World Open title in 1998, one of 36 Pro Squash Association titles on Power’s resume. He also coached former national champions Shahier Razik, Marnie Baizley and Melanie Jans.
Way joined the Harvard program in 2010 and led the men’s and women’s teams to the College Squash Association national titles last season.
“He eats, breathes and sleeps squash,” Nicholls said. “You couldn’t find anyone more dedicated to craftsmanship and excellence. He just never stops.
“He inspired me a lot on the coaching side. I wish we had 20 Mike Ways.”
The induction ceremony will be held at the ongoing Canadian Championships in Vancouver. The 2022 vintage also includes Jans, Razik, Michael Desaulniers and Barbara Cooper.