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Open Squash

Apr 30th 2024

Squash Is a Great Sport For Writers

Nava Grant Featured Image

Nava Anne Grant, a 33-year-old writer, Open Squash member and creative coach from NYC, talks about how squash and writing connect. She's finding similarities between the tactics she uses on the court and those in her career.

Nava Anne Grant, 33, is a writer and creative coach who helps people write articles for publication. She’s been a regular at Open Squash, the nonprofit squash center in New York City, for a couple of years now.

Nava Grant

Nava on court four at Open Squash’s Bryant Park location, recently

As a writer, Nava has found that learning to play squash has had many parallels in her writing career, and even blogs regularly about her squash and writing journeys.

“As both a writer and a squash player, I have been forced to learn restraint and control, especially over myself,” she wrote recently as part of a blog about her writing practice, and about playing a much younger player who often hit the ball too hard. “I have also learned strategy: Communicating should be deliberate and intentional, not haphazard.”

“I love winning in squash,” she also wrote. “But I also love losing when I am beaten by interesting, fun players who work me so hard that I leave the court smiling.”

She also wrote a meditative piece recently about parallels between the Jewish festival of Passover, and a specific squash shot, the boast, which requires one to suspend disbelief and be optimistic, even in the face of challenges.

“Since learning the boast shot, I have won more than a few points by using it,” she wrote. “It’s just hard to totally turn away physically from the direction I think I should be going and hit a shot with only an idea in my mind of its destination. As I told my coach, the boast is a real gesture of faith.”

The boast is a shot that can transform a squash point. You can be in a bad situation, and then win the point, because the opponent may not get to the ball once it’s hit the front wall. That has meaning beyond the game of squash, Nava said.

“I felt uncomfortable with the boast, to begin with,” she said. “It seems so counterintuitive, and the idea that you’re hitting the ball in the opposite direction but will potentially end up winning the point, to end up winning the point off a defensive shot, it’s so remarkable. And Passover is a holiday about miracles and miraculous things happening that are unexpected. I saw parallels there.”

Nava previously worked as a communications director for a private Modern Orthodox Jewish school on the Upper East Side, where she lives. But she branched out to start her writing and creative coaching business after helping to ghostwrite and get people’s articles published, on the side, over recent years. She has also found that when she is helping people to write, there is often some work to be done to build people’s confidence.

“There is a real emotional and psychological component to making creative work,” she said. “Beyond the labor of drafting, editing, ghostwriting, and pitching, there’s also some brush-clearing to do around people’s feelings about making stuff and being out there and having their names out there. And that’s how my business got started.”

Nava’s business has grown by referrals, and she is also now working with several clergy people on helping them write.

“What attracts me to squash is that it’s so intellectually stimulating,” she said. “It’s a sport populated by very intense people, and I often find a personal resonance with them. Likewise, I love helping clergy people to write. What they do in the world is very self-sacrificing and intense, and I’m drawn to that energy, to helping them set it free through their writing.”

Originally a tennis player, Nava started playing squash in Washington D.C. at a local club there. Her level has improved to a low-intermediate level since she moved to New York, although she recently got beaten by a much older player in the club league and found herself furious about it.

“Squash brings out my hyper-competitive side,” she said. “It teaches a host of lessons for all of us, not all of them easy to take. Many of the things that come up during a squash game, we don’t necessarily want to admit to. But there they are.”

As for the future, Nava is interested to continue playing squash and to continue taking lessons from the game which she can also apply in her writing and coaching career.

“Squash is endlessly complex,” she said. “Just when you’ve learned one lesson, it teaches you another, and I have found that writing is the same. It's about asking ourselves, 'what does this process have to teach me, this time?’”