Ode to Jadwin

One of the most beloved squash facilities has just ended its run.

The L. Stockwell Jadwin Gymnasium at Princeton was opened in 1969. It was named after Stock Jadwin, class of 1928, who had died a year after graduation in a car accident on Manhattan Bridge. When his mother, Ethel Jadwin, died in 1964, she gave Princeton a bequest of $27 million, the largest gift ever to the school (about $271 million today). Some of the money went to building a state-of-the-art gym.

At the time, Jadwin was the best squash facility in the world. It had twelve singles courts and a hardball doubles court. And a unique architecture. Herbert Warren Wind, in one of my favorite phrases from a writer that produced dozens, said it resembled “a Brobdingnagian armadillo.”

Jadwin was iconic. It hosted the Tigers’ women’s and men’s squash team teams. It was a good run: over the fifty-five seasons in Jadwin, they collected seventeen national team titles for the women and nine for the men. Jadwin hosted the 1998 World Juniors, the first time a world championship was played in the U.S. Jadwin also hosted numerous national championships for juniors, collegiate players and adults, many with incredible, heartbreaking and nerve-wracking matches. It was the setting for the story of Run to the Roar, the epic 2009 match between the men of Trinity and Princeton; and it was where Princeton finally broke through and ended Trinity’s streak in 2012. Jadwin hosted one of the world’s oldest summer squash camps. Hall of Fame coaches like Betty Constable, Gail Ramsay and Bob Callahan had their memorabilia-filled offices there.

Jadwin was a unique facility. We stretched in the fencing room, reputedly the world’s largest. We poked around the tennis courts, the track, the wrestling room. We loved the main floor basketball gym, with its echoes of Pete Carril running the Princeton offense.

The plaster-back walls on the squash courts were old-school: Jadwin was one of the last places with a tiny door that you had to bend over to enter or exit the court (or bang your head—a rookie mistake that every player did once). I am sorry I might never again bang my head leaving a Princeton squash court.