KENTVILLE - Len Kosciukiewicz is perfectly OK with his teenagers keeping him on his toes, as long as it’s on the squash courts.
The Kentville resident picked up squash in the military 25 years ago. He’s travelled to play competitively in several regional and national events since then, but it’s not his own accomplishments that have him beaming with pride.
Len’s son, 17-year-old Douglas, and daughter, 19-year-old Taylor, are both going places in squash. The siblings competed in the Canada Games in 2015, and Taylor is now turning heads as a student athlete at the University of Ottawa.
“She’s the No. 1 player on the varsity team there,” said Len.
Douglas has been selected to represent Nova Scotia at the men’s provincial championships in Windsor, Ont. Feb. 16-18, and Taylor will be competing in the women’s championships.
“You couldn’t find two better kids to coach,” said Janet MacLeod, who was their first squash instructor and coached the siblings at the Canada Games.
“It’s been really fun to watch the development. They have an amazing work ethic and you can’t argue with that.”
MacLeod recently joined Len and fellow Kings County Squash Club member Kim Spencer as part of a four-person provincial masters team competing in the Canadian Masters Teams Championships.
“We were joking that there was a lot of smell of A535 and Voltaren in the air,” said Len, sharing a laugh with MacLeod.
“The team competed really well coming fifth in the country against some strong competition,” he added.
MacLeod has helped the Kosciukiewicz siblings hone their skills at the Kentville-based squash club located in the multipurpose facility commonly known for housing the soccer dome.
“A coach’s dream is to have someone who is open and willing to work hard,” she said.
“You can’t teach them that. That comes from within.”
Douglas is logging plenty of time at the local squash club in preparation for his upcoming competition in Ontario.
“This guy is going places with this game, for sure,” said MacLeod, a board member at the club and athlete preparing to travel to the United States in July to compete in the World Masters Squash Championships.
“I’m very proud of both of them.”
On occasion, Douglas will squeeze in a few rounds with his father.
“He runs me around the court, if you can call that playing,” jokes Len, drawing a grin from his son.
“He throws me a bone every now and then. We go out and he gives me a couple points so I don’t feel too bad. His level is way beyond me now.”
Douglas started playing squash competitively six years ago. He used to make time for squash in between major bantam hockey commitments with the Valley Wildcats, but soon found he wanted more and more time on the squash courts.
“I found myself at hockey games practicing my squash stroke,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for 50 to 70 shots to be exchanged in a single rally when Douglas meets his match in a game. And those rallies might run to be about 30 seconds to a minute long.
“I really enjoy playing and trying to work out a way to win a point,” the Horton High School student said.
He’s found a good training partner in fellow Kings County Squash Club member James Wiseman, a teacher at West Kings District High School who is also preparing for the upcoming men’s championships in Ontario.
Douglas is focusing on bouncing back after overcoming an injury leading up to the high-level competition. He’s earned the distinction of top junior player in Nova Scotia in the past, and was ranked seventh in Canada at the U-17 level at this time last year.
Ultimately, Douglas hopes the hard work he’s put into his squash game will result in an opportunity to play the sport competitively at the university level. In the meantime, he’s happy to give his father a run for his money every now and then in between training sessions.
And Len couldn’t be more thrilled to oblige.
“I like to do something to try to stay fit and I find it a lot more interesting to chase around a squash ball than to get on a treadmill,” he said.
“It’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of strategy to it. There’s a lot of good cardiovascular exercise.”
While he’s not one to list off his own highlight reel moments, it’s not hard to tell what’s at the top of Len’s list.
“This brought us all together doing a common sport we all enjoy,” he said.
“It’s inspirational to watch them.”