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Trinity's Juan Vargas Not Quite Done Solidifying His Own Legacy For Men's Squash

Trinity's Juan Vargas Not Quite Done Solidifying His Own Legacy For Men's Squash

Hartford, Conn. - Born and raised in the most populous city in Colombia, senior men’s squash co-captain Juan Vargas could not be happier to have landed at Trinity, a Little Ivy with roughly 2,500 undergraduates. As Vargas and the Bantams enter this weekend’s College Squash Association (CSA) National Team Championships, it’s hard to not look back on a career that has spanned thousands of miles, multiple continents, numerous friendships, and plenty of memories.  Vargas first picked up a squash racket as a seven-year old living in Bogota. It was a familiar game to the Vargas family as his older brother and former Bantam, Andres Vargas, five years Juan’s elder, dominated the courts at the Kellner Squash Center from 2007-08 to 2010-11 before transitioning to an assistant coaching role with the team.  With Andres at Trinity, Juan remained in touch with his brother and eventually chose to continue his own squash career at the same school his brother attended. 

“Andres opened the doors for me to come study at Trinity,” says the younger Vargas. “I knew about Trinity's winning streak and I knew that it had great players so as soon as I was old enough, I applied early decision."

Nearly half of the team’s players hail from overseas but Vargas being the lone international senior this season. The younger players on the team lean on the Bogota native for guidance and advice on the adjustment to college life in a foreign country, something that Vargas went through during his rookie year. 

“At first it was very easy. Everything was new and I was getting to know an entirely different culture where I had all the freedom in the world. Once I got more used to the life and the culture, it got a bit more difficult since I started to miss my friends, family, and culture. Having said that, the squash team has players from all over the world who don't have any family around either, so that bonds the players together and Head Coach Paul Assaiante is like a father to all of us. In my opinion, that sense of family has a huge role in the team's success.”

“Juan is a great guy and has adjusted very well to life here at Trinity,” says assistant coach and former player, Chris Binnie. “As our captain this year, he has led the team very well. He will be missed next year.” 

“Juan has been the backbone of the team ever since I came to Trinity,” says junior co-captain, Affeeq Ismail. “In terms of leadership, he gives off a sense of brotherhood to everyone on the team which clearly helps us to connect closely with each other. As a friend, he is always available to help us and advise us when we are in need of a favor, not only on the court, but off the court too.  He is a superb squash player with great skills and his attitude on the court makes him a wonderful player to watch. He has great sportsmanship and is always determined to win, not only for himself, but for the team. I am honored to have spent three years playing alongside him.”

Vargas not only adjusted well to life on the squash court, but also to life in the classroom at an academically-challenging NESCAC school like Trinity. The captain is a double major, studying both anthropology and International Studies, and as a junior was named to the NESCAC All-Academic team thanks to his work in the classroom. 

“We have a lot of freshman on the team and it is gratifying to advise them and help them based on the knowledge that I have acquired throughout my four years here. Being an international student myself, I know the struggles that people usually go through when they arrive here, so it makes me happy to help them adapt and succeed both in academics and squash,” says Vargas.

Despite following in his brothers footsteps, Vargas quickly made a name for himself during his freshman season when he went 11-5 and, after dropping the first game and going down early in the second during the 2012-13 National Championship, came back to win the next three in a crucial swing for the Bantams.  Trinity took a 4-2 lead with his win and eventually captured its 14th title in 15 years. Fast forward three All-American honors, three National Top-25 individual rankings, two National Championships, and one Pan-American Games gold medal later, and Vargas is poised to help lead the Bantams to a finish similar to his first year in Hartford. Trinity travels to Yale this weekend looking to defend last year’s title and capture its 16th championship in the last 18 years. Juan’s journey has been an adventurous one, but there’s only one ending that the senior would enjoy as the final chapter in his illustrious Trinity squash career – hoisting the Potter Trophy one last time on the same courts that he did as a freshman, four years ago.

“It has been an amazing experience. I have always been under great leadership and I have met people that have changed my life,” says Vargas. “I think that the balance between academics and sports was key to adapting and succeeding at Trinity, but I definitely couldn't have done this without the help of many.  It is still not over though.  Hopefully we can win one more National Title… and I can pass my senior seminar!” *Laughs*