Grad proud of part upholding legacy

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The stakes are high when you head a dynasty.

Leading a program that holds the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) all-time record for the most consecutive championships in any sport, David Mill has excelled. He was a four-time OUA All-Star, one-time OUA MVP, three-year team captain and an integral part of the team that raised four championship banners.

On June 19, Mill will join more than 300,000 Western alumni living around the world as a newly minted graduate and member of the Western Class of 2020.

Mill was training at the National Squash Academy in Toronto when he was contacted by Western. Legendary squash coach Jack Fairs and then-head coach Derek Moore invited him to help the Mustangs men’s squash team extend its historic winning streak.

A long-time player on the circuit, the Windsor native was well-aware of Western’s pedigree.

“I grew up hearing stories of the legendary Western squash program. I was dead-set on going to the States, but the way Western approached the whole situation, how both coaches reached out to me personally and presented it as being part of a legacy, I was immediately attracted to Western,” he said.

At 5, Mill tagged along with his dad to a squash club in Windsor. “He got a racquet for me and shortened the grip. Every time he played, I’d go on the court and scrape the ball around the floor. I kept at it and now, at 22, I still haven’t stopped.”

When he arrived at Western, he had his eyes on the team captaincy. Mill worked with coaches on leadership development, attended meetings and workshops, and got to know the team. In his second year, he was nominated captain and led the team for three years.

Mill was instrumental in guiding the squad through four seasons, the latest triumph coming in February when they captured an unprecedented 37th consecutive OUA championship.

Now, he is looking beyond squash.

“My Western squash career was my pinnacle. I had such a great four years playing, but I don’t think it would be the same if I went and played professionally by myself around the world. Being with my teammates and coaches, playing throughout Canada and the United States, and wearing that Western jersey, it just felt like you were part of something bigger. It was my greatest athletic experience for sure,” he said.

For Mill, who studied Italian language and culture, learning to balance academic demands with an intense competition schedule boiled down to discipline. “I struggled in the first two years. I kept a lighter course load and made sure our team had study meetings throughout the year,” he said.

Summer was the time for catching up academically and he did so by travelling to Tuscany, Italy, to take a month-long course. Once the course was completed, Mill stayed overseas and trained in Barcelona for an extra month and a half, leaving him primed to re-join the team in the fall.

While at Western, Mill tapped into Western’s massive alumni network, attending events in Chicago and New York and connecting with alumni who offered advice and recommendations.

“Having a big alumni network taught me to keep in touch and be proactive. These were all ex-Western players who went on to successful careers. We loved squash, so we had something to talk about and the business side of the conversation was immediately free-flowing.”

Mill simultaneously completed a project management degree online at Cornell University while studying at Western and has since secured a job in construction project management in Windsor starting in September.

Looking back over a busy four years, Mill could not be happier.

“My social life had to take a little bit of a pause. I didn’t do much going out for my years in university. But, to me, I got the absolute most of it in terms of academics and athletics.”