Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Artist

You may have noticed that we have a new artist displaying work at the Workshop. This is special because he is none other than our own (long-distance) member, Mike West. The show is entitled "On A Lonely Road" and will be on display for the next few months. Aside from being a fine squash player, Mike has been an water-colorist for many many years.

We'll have an artist opening on Saturday, August 1st. from 6:00 until 9:00. The opening will be in conjunction with an event down at our fine neighbors Yahara Bay Distillers. In addition to art work, there is going to be some sort of poetry slam and reading event by the cab drivers of one of the local cab companies. I'll get more details on that as it gets closer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

MSW/UCC Challenge Weekend

Just coming off a really fun weekend at the Shop. A group of 8 players from the University Club of Chicago came up to Madison to play an inter-club challenge match. The UCC team arrived at 10:00am on Saturday and play commenced immediately and went on for over 3 hours. I was very happy to see squash played at all levels and everyone had a great time. A group later went out for 18 holes of golf at The Legend Of Bergamont, and then we met later for drinks and dinner at the Capital Brewery in Middleton.

I'd like to thank Mark Heather and the members of the UCC team for making the effort to come up to Madison for the weekend. I know that the Madison squash community really enjoyed your company and the friendly competition. I hope we can make this an annual event here in Madison, and that we can take a team down to the UClub to return the favor.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spring League Wrap Up

The MSA Spring League finished up last night at the club with the conclusion of our end-of-session tournament. Finalists Don "The Stork" Breckbill, and Len Widra playing out the final in front of a capacity* crowd on the show court. It looked as if Don was going to walk away with the championship in three games with his shot making and much improved court coverage. Impressive front court volley drops hurt his opponent, but Len wasn't helping himself at all with an impressive number and variety of tins. Not to be bull-dozed, staring down the barrel of three match-balls in the third, Len bravely dug in, tightened up his game, forced Don into the back corners to push the match into a fourth.

The fourth was all Don though. With a lot of hard work (and a lot of huffing and puffing by both players) Don was able to keep Len behind him, hit an incredible number of winners from impossible angles, and force enough errors from his opponent's racquet to take home the title and a fancy MSW T-Shirt for his efforts.

All players enjoyed pizza and local brews provided by the Madison Squash Association and otherwise had a great time.

All in all, the format of the league this time seemed to go over pretty well with the players. We'll take a few weeks off and kick off another session later in the summer.

In addition to our weekly league, coming soon to Madison Squash Workshop is a Box League. Players are placed in a box group of 5 or 6 players. You get a month to play all players in your group, The players with the best records move up a group, the worst records move down, and the people in the middle stay in their group. Not sure when we'll start that, but that's easy enough to coordinate and run just about any time. The key is participation at all levels so that appropriate matches happen week in and week out. We have enough members from beginner to expert that getting appropriate matches shouldn't be a problem.

*By "capacity," I mean that the 10 people who watched the final had eaten pizza until capacity.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Random bits

This Friday, June 5th, from 5:00pm until 9:00pm, we're going to have our art show featuring Mark Cullen. As mentioned earlier, this is a dual show with the folks over at Yahara Bay Distillers. They've got the distillery all cleaned up and artwork up on the walls. Our place is all ready to go as well. Should be a fun evening of art, distilled beverage, and squash!

Also in the news, we were featured in the Wisconsin State Journal a couple of weeks ago. In case you haven't seen the article it's right here. Interestingly, I haven't gotten any phone calls from locals looking to join the club, but I have had conversations with folks from Houston, Seattle, Stamford, and get this--Ireland! Squashsite put a link to the article and I've noticed a bit more international traffic on the website as a result of that.

In other news, we are finally getting our Solar Thermal panels put up on the roof. These panels are going to be the source for our water heat! the hold up has been getting approval from Focus on Energy so that we get some cash back. First, our plumber had to take a class to become a certified installer of solar panels, and second we had to fill out some paperwork and have the application approved. Anyway, all that is done and we can finally get that going.

Anyway, up until now our water heater is using gas. Despite the heater being very efficient, when you're heating 80 gallons of water to keep our showers hot, we end up using quite a bit of gas. I've got a couple of months of gas bills now as reference, so it'll be interesting to see how our gas usage drops after the panels go up. I'll keep you posted.

Finally, in cooperation with Yahara Bay Distillers, we had Madison Farmworks install a small urban garden in front of our building. Megan Cain and none other than White House Farmer Claire Strader, installed the garden. We're growing tomatos, dill, tarragon, basil, rhubarb, cucumbers, edamame, and of course several varieties of summer and winter squash! Nick, at Yahara Bay has always tried to use local produce to flavor his products, so he'll be using some of the produce to flavor some of his distilled goods. It doesn't get much more local than that.