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Experienced Duo to Lead Hill Squash

Hill School squash will be under new leadership next year, as Headmaster Zachary Lehman recently announced the appointments of experienced, decorated prep school squash coaches Josh Cardwell and Jennifer Pelletier to the Hill School faculty.  Cardwell will be the Squash Director and head boys coach, and Pelletier will be an Instructor of History and the head girls coach.  

The duo replaces Chanel Erasmus, Director of Hill Squash since 2017, who is departing Hill and moving to the Netherlands at the conclusion of the academic year. 

Under Erasmus’ tutelage, Hill’s boys and girls squash teams have both demonstrated marked improvement, as measured by performances at the U.S. Squash High School Nationals Tournament.  In her first season, 2017-18, both Hill teams competed in Division V.  The next year, Hill’s boys made a two-division jump to Division III, and in 2019-20 they qualified for the Division II tournament.  Likewise, Hill’s girls improved from Division V in 2018 and 2019 to Division IV in 2020.  Moreover, both teams advanced to the final of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League Tournament in consecutive years, and the Hill boys won the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Squash Association (MASA) Division II tournament.  The 2018-19 season was notably fruitful for the boys team, which set a program single-season record for wins (20) and defeated Lawrenceville for the first time since 1999-2000.   

“We are extremely grateful to Coach Erasmus for the incredible amount of time and energy she has dedicated to Hill Squash throughout the past four years,” said Hill Director of Athletics Seth Eilberg.  “Her passion for the game and her devotion to her players is evident the moment you step into the courts, and she clearly cares about their off-court success, too.  The improvement our squash players and teams exhibited under her watch is no surprise.

“When she told us she would be leaving Hill, we were fortunate that she had a few potential replacements already in mind and led us to Coaches Cardwell and Pelletier.  Their resumes as players and coaches speak for themselves, as they have both headed highly successful prep programs.  We are looking forward to seeing the impact they will have on our squash student-athletes and in our School community.”

Cardwell and Pelletier – who was teammates with Erasmus at Trinity College - arrive at The Hill from Connecticut boarding schools Avon Old Farms and Choate Rosemary Hall, where they have each transformed their respective programs into mainstays in the top flight of the U.S. High School National Tournament.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Cardwell did not begin playing squash competitively until he was 19.  With a strong family heritage in squash – his mother, Vicki, once was the top-ranked women’s player in the world - Cardwell quickly took to the game and by 2010 he had achieved a top-150 Professional Squash Association ranking.  Cardwell played professionally from 2007 until 2018, during which time he also gained extensive coaching experience.  In Australia, he was the Junior Development Coach and Center Manager at Westerfolds Sports Center for five years prior to his arrival in the United States.  He coached at Hackley School in New York in 2009-2010 and was the Professional Coach, Coaching Adviser, and Marketing Director of TOG, LLC in Boston from 2010-2014.

In 2012, Cardwell became the Director of Squash and Head Coach at Avon.  Prior to his arrival, Avon had not competed above Division III at the US High School Nationals Tournament.  He quickly elevated the program’s caliber, and in just his second year Cardwell guided Avon to the program’s first-ever Founders League title and first-ever national title.  Avon has since been a fixture in the Division I draw at Nationals and has won five additional Founders League titles. 

Additionally, Cardwell coached the Barbados National Senior Team during the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games.  In all, he has coached or worked with several professional players and players who were ranked in the Top-10 in the world as Junior players.

Growing up in Canada, Pelletier was a highly ranked Junior player and she was a four-time Canadian National Champion.  She was a four-year starter at Trinity College, where she compiled a career record of 52-20 and was a member of the Bantams’ 2014 National Championship team.

After graduating from Trinity with a B.A. in History and Political Science, Pelletier spent two years at the Westover School in Middlebury, Conn., where she was an instructor of history, head girls tennis coach, and head girls squash coach.  On the squash courts, Pelletier helped lead Westover to the Division IV Title at the 2016 US High School Nationals Tournament and a runner-up finish in the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class B Tournament. 

In 2016, Pelletier joined the faculty at Choate Rosemary Hall, where for the past five years she has been a history teacher, dorm parent, and head girls squash coach.  Competing in Division III at Nationals when Pelletier arrived, Choate has since earned consecutive top-10 finishes in Division I and secured a top-three finish in New England.  Moreover, the team has twice been voted winners of the NEISA Sportsmanship Award. 

Pelletier has taught various year-long and term history courses at Choate, and she has been a dorm parent throughout her time in Connecticut including two years as the Head of House.   

For the recently married couple, the opening at Hill arose at an opportune time, as the chance to work at the same institution had become a prominent consideration in planning their future.  

“There was a lot of good fortune that came to our appointments at The Hill School, as Jenn and I had been discussing for quite some time the prospect of working at the same institution together, and furthermore, having an ability to shape a squash program alongside one another,” Cardwell explained. “Working at different schools in different towns has meant that there has always been a commuting aspect to our relationship, and oftentimes – especially during our winter seasons – we would be spending big portions of time away from one another.  As we prepare to enter the next stage of our lives together, we decided it was time to find a situation where we could live and work side-by-side. We had both heard of the incredible things that Chanel had done over the last few years in building up the programs at Hill. When Jenn received a message from Chanel mentioning that she would be departing the School and had thought of us to take over the programs, we realized that this was the perfect opportunity to achieve both our personal and professional goals by joining such an incredible institution as The Hill School.” 

In addition to heading Hill Squash and Pelletier’s teaching responsibilities, the duo will reside in Upper School East Dormitory.  With an experienced boarding school couple set to arrive in Pottstown, the future of Hill Squash is in good hands.