Women's Squash Does Rugged Maniac

The women's squash team competed in a Rugged Maniac challenge (Photo courtsey Haley Mendez). 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Crawling through tunnels of mud is not every team's idea of a good time, but for the Harvard women's squash team, it was an exciting and challenging way to bond and kick off the 2013-14 academic year. The team headed to Southwick, Mass., to compete in the Rugged Maniac, a 3.1-mile course filled with obstacles designed to push competitors' limits and determine just how tough they really are.

"It was an awesome way to start the year," said co-captain Haley Mendez. "I've always wanted to do something like that, so we thought it would be a great way for us to get to know each other and bond as a team before the season really got underway."

The Rugged Maniac was designed with the assistance of the Marine Corps and offers a balance between fun and physicality. The Crimson had to climb over walls up to 20 feet high, jump over fire, crawl through mud and skid down a water slide, all while running through a combination of forests, fields, motocross tracks and ski slopes.

"It was such a different experience," said co-captain Natasha Anzik. "The team wasn't prepared, we sort of just surprised them, but everyone was really excited and at the end of the day we had a great time."

This challenging 5K course promotes teamwork, a concept that is sometimes lost in the world of squash. Teams have to help each other through the obstacles and get everyone across the finish line.

"It was great because it forced us to work as a team," said Mandez. "We had to help each other get over the walls or through the mud, and we had to stay positive and encourage one another in order to finish, so I definitely think we came out stronger as a team."

"In squash the concept of team is often taken for granted, added Anzik, so as captains it was a good way for us to show the girls that its team first."

The season gets underway on Tuesday, Dec. 3, when the Crimson travels to Hanover, N.H., to faceoff with Ivy League foe Dartmouth.