Vale – Annie Gleeson
Annie Gleeson passed away on Sunday, 6th June after a long battle with cancer.
Among many of her accolades in squash over the years she was recently the recipient of the NSW Squash Volunteer Appreciation award.
Annie volunteered at Thornleigh Squash Centre and has been instrumental in running the Sydney Junior Pennant. Annie has given tirelessly to the Squash community for many years, including everything from running competitions, handling gradings and teaching beginners how to play.
Annie first started playing squash when she was 25 years old, she previously played hockey but grew frustrated when it was consistently washed out due to too poor weather. Eager to play sport and be active she started playing squash at Macquarie University, during this time Annie received coaching from Peter Ezzy and did not looked back since!
Annie fell in love with squash from the appeal of the sports accessibility, she could play all year round irrespective of the weather outside, Annie also loved watching higher graded matches and striving to improve.
Annie began coaching squash at Barker college, at this time the junior competition was ran successfully by Merle Pym, once Merle left the whole competition was in disarray and nearly disintegrated. Annie who was also working at Knox college and looking after a junior group at Thornleigh took it upon herself to take on the Sydney Junior Pennant and coach Briars@Thornleigh Juniors as well as run the programme.
Annie described the situation when she took over as “disintegrated, there was next to nothing, no one knew what to do, then I decided I’d take it over.” The competition is now flourishing with 11 divisions and 7 schools and clubs involved across the north-western region, young players of all ability can participate and compete.
Annie receives great pride from seeing young players develop, and has played a part in multiple juniors competing overseas and winning international competitions including former World Number 1 David Palmer. She finds great joy from teaching a young player new skills and sharing in the child’s happiness once they develop through hard work and persistence. “They can’t get it, they can’t get it, then all of a sudden, they’ve got it and just the look on their face, I think that is the most rewarding thing.”
With Annie valuing the team and social aspects of squash above all she advises all young squash players to, “Find a winner, find someone that’s around you that’s a winner. hang around them and see what that vibe feels like, winners become winners mate that’s all there is to it.” One thing for sure is that Annie Gleeson is definitely a winner!
Annie’s loyalty and commitment to squash is unwavering and her contribution felt by many, including Thornleigh Squash Centres Manager Anthony Thomas, “NSW juniors wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is without Annie. She has singlehandedly kept junior pennant going through all the transitions of squash over the last twenty years, she has been the most stable, reliable figure on the scene.”
We thank Annie for her dedication to squash and are grateful for all she has contributed.
She will be greatly missed.