Hartford, Conn.- "I think it is a nice story about a guy who came from very far away, was kind of quiet, gained momentum and knew his place. Then, he earned the keys to the kingdom and is now holding this team together wonderfully," Trinity College Head Men's Squash Coach Paul Assaiante says of senior co-captain Vikram Malhotra, who hails from Mumbai, India.
The Trinity men's squash program is legendary and each player whom has had the honor of being a part of it has brought something special to build on the legacy. Malhotra, however, holds a unique position as the bridge between two legacies. He was privileged to be a part of the longest winning streak in the history of intercollegiate varsity sporta (252 matches), and is now presented with the opportunity to create a new legacy with the current team. Malhotra recognized this opportunity when he addressed the team after the loss to the Yale Bulldogs which brought the 13-year, 11 month streak to an end. "Congratulations," he said. "You have been a part of this winning streak legacy. Enjoy it and we will start it again tomorrow."
Coach Assaiante describes Malhotra as a showman with a creative and flamboyant style of play on the court, which does not at all reflect his conservative personality. Malhotra also hates to lose. His coach says, "Vikram has an intense competitiveness, always attacking and looking for the kill." Malhotra agrees, stating that on the court he is all about winning whereas off of the court he considers himself to be easy going.
Aside from its winning tradition, Trinity men's squash boasts an amazing team dynamic that has taken years to build and huge commitment to maintain. As captain, Malhotra feels an even greater responsibility to represent and strengthen the close-knit squash family. Malhotra says, "The difference between us and other teams is the way we welcome new people and make new guys instantly feel they are a part of something they were not a part of before." Malhotra takes this responsibility seriously which, according to Coach Assaiante, is what makes him the consummate captain.
The winning combination of ruthless competitor and team builder is just the spark the Bantams need to overcome this unfamiliar moment of adversity. Malhotra will continue to lead by example on the court and to be someone on whom his teammates can depend off the court. Coach Assaiante says, "He has had a stellar record here (55-8, 10-1 in 2011-12) and he is so selfless. Vikram thinks about the team 24/7." Malhotra says that his previous years at Trinity were a challenge but one of his greatest personal accomplishments has been handling the No. 1 position in the lineup for back-to-back years. Coach Assaiante adds, "He never gets to coast and he has handled it so well. Now, as a senior who has earned the respect, it is his chance to make his real mark on the team."
It is in moments of adversity that teammates look to their captains for proof that they have made the right choice in a leader. Coach Assaiante says, "In some ways he is more talented than anyone that came before him. He is a far greater leader than a player, as he kept this team together when the defeat could have caused us to crumble." Both coach and captain agree that this team is younger and possesses less star quality than teams of the past, which makes commitment to team chemistry a top priority. "We have always had a lot of weapons that we maybe don't have this year. The squad has gotten stronger together. After what we faced, it's amazing," Malhotra says.
Each team develops its own identity and its own legacy. Malhotra will be instrumental in creating a new legacy with a less experienced team than past Trinity teams. He is the bridge between the legendary success of the past teams and the new success to come from a team with great potential. With Malhotra's experience, commitment to the team, and an unparalleled drive to win, the 2011-12 Bantams are poised to achieve greatness as well.
written by Kristen Ramsay'12