At 86 years old, Philip Leis entered the 2018 WSF World Masters Squash Championships. He traveled all the way to Charlottesville to compete, and as the oldest participant in that group, Phil had to show everyone what he was capable of.
After a week of competing, Phil finished off the championships happy as ever. He may not have won the competition, but he gave it his all and enjoyed every minute of it. “It’s not about winning” Phil expressed, “it’s just about having fun and enjoying the game”.
Phil joined the world of squash after moving to Rhode Island. By growing up in a small town in New York, then moving to the Midwest for school, Phil never had the opportunity to take up squash. But, when Phil joined Brown University as a professor of Anthropology, he knew he needed to find ways to stay active and healthy. He took up tennis for a while, but never truly felt he had control over the ball. When one of his colleagues introduced him to squash, Phil fell in love and has stuck with the game ever since.
Since he began playing, Phil has become an expert at the game and played in many different settings over the years. He has played in the Rhode Island championships and the National Masters Squash Championships all the way to the Wimbledon Squash Club and even a team in Zimbabwe, just to name a few.
As an Anthropologist, Phil traveled a lot over the years and always found that sports were a great way to meet new people and connect on a whole other level. No matter what language you speak or what country you’re from, you can always find a way to connect through sports.
Squash has taken Phil on many amazing journeys over the years, but he has also taken a few hiatuses. Just in the past few years alone, he had a knee replacement, hip replacement, and a fall that led to an elbow injury, but Phil didn’t let any of that stop him.
Dr. John Froehlich, the program director of the Total Joint Center at the Miriam Hospital, replaced Phil’s hip and knee, giving him the opportunity to get back in the game. After Dr. Froehlich finished Phil’s replacements, he was feeling better than ever and ready to start practice and join another competition. Soon enough, Phil was able to return to squash to show everyone that no matter what happens you can always get back out there. “That’s what I feel is important for everyone to know” Phil expressed. “Even after a knee and hip replacement, it’s important to keep active and stay healthy” Phil shared.
Soon after his recovery, Phil got back in the game and joined another tournament. When he threw his back out during the game he knew it was important to seek help, so he saw John Balletto, a massage therapist, to help correct the issues. When John realized Phil’s injury required more support than he could offer, he recommended Phil to Performance, where Dr. Brian Hay and Dr. Andrew Horton helped him recover fast and once again get him back in the game.
Since graduating from physical therapy in March of 2017, Phil is happy to announce that he has had no issues! Phil continues to spend his retirement happily staying active and healthy by reading, spending afternoons in the garden, taking long walks every day, and of course, continuing to play squash.
When he’s not traveling or at a tournament, Phil loves to play locally, joining his friends at the Universtiy Club courts or the newly opened Nicols squash Club at Moses Brown. Phil is a big advocate for staying healthy and exercising regularly, all the things that the Nichols facility promotes. When Moses Brown and SqushBusters teamed up to open the facility, they began to promote healthy, active, and supportive environments for students from lower income backgrounds. “You only have one life, so you might as well enjoy it and stay active” Phil smiled. As an advocate for healthy living, the Universtiy Club and the Nichols squash club are the best places for Phil to pick up a racket and join a competitive game with his friends.