Student Margot secures squash scholarship in USA

Dated: 23 April 2020

Margot in pole position for success...
Woodhouse student Margot Prow has earned herself an international scholarship to study and play squash at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA.
Margot came to Woodhouse from Ashmole Academy and has been studying A level art and design, biology and psychology. We caught up with her during lockdown for an interview about how she managed to get a sports scholarship and to find out just what it takes to be a full-time athlete and a full-time student…
How did you end up with an offer to study in Philadelphia?
“I first spoke to Drexel University two years ago; in fact, they were the first college that reached out to me. However, that fizzled out and I started looking at other colleges like Yale and Stanford and back in October I went to visit them, but the financial demands and ACT/SAT scores from Yale were too high, so that quickly went out the window. The travel for squash matches at Stanford (with it being on the west coast and most Ivy Leagues on the east) was its biggest downside. I knew Drexel had just recruited three strong players who I was friends with on the Junior circuit - I reached out and contacted them and thankfully they were still recruiting. Both my academics and financial abilities matched theirs, so I knew I had to apply as soon as possible. I’ve never visited Drexel but have met with the assistant coach in Boston at the US Open and in Birmingham at the British Open. Because of Covid-19 its unlikely I’ll be able to visit so fingers crossed its right for me!
I have initially applied to major in psychology and minor in interior design, but what I love about Drexel is the flexibility to change and try out new classes (which England doesn’t do). So, it is likely I may change my major and/or minor to something else…. Possibly environmental sciences, ecology or fine art.
My scholarship is a full scholarship for my first year and worth $77,484. This includes boarding, tuition fees, health insurance, dining, books and athletic scholarship. I secured a full athletic scholarship of $13,200 as I “will be looking to compete in the top half of the team” and an attribute to the team’s success. My other scholarship was put together through financial aid based on my parent’s earnings.
I’ll be playing squash on the women’s first team and hope to be positioned top three. My goal is to be playing No.1 on the team by my second year.
My family are over the moon at the offer. Because I am an athlete recruit, the whole process of this started back in the summer of year 11. It was extremely tough, I had to revise for my ACT & SAT exams on my own and sit them three times. At moments we felt overwhelmed and confused, not knowing what to write on the application and what information to give.
But after two years of emails back and forth, I was finally admitted to Drexel University and I couldn’t be happier.”
How did you get into playing squash?
“I started playing squash because my parents played it - they played socially at my local squash club (Southgate Squash and Racketball Club) most weekdays, and so my brother and I were dragged along. I’d always been an energetic child, and I knew I couldn’t just sit back and watch. My brother and I would grab any old racket and ball and run around the court from the age of four. At around seven I started to hit the ball against the wall and instantly wanted lessons to get better.
At about 11-years-old, a regionals coach was visiting clubs around London, and saw me playing. My parents had no idea about tournaments or competitive play or whether it was even possible for me to compete. Around three weeks later I had joined the U13s regionals team - and that’s when the buzz to compete started.”
Since then, Margot has put together an incredibly impressive string of results...
Margot represented and captained the England team in the U17s European championships in Sweden and represented England in the U19s European Individuals...
Reached No.1 in England for all the age categories...
Won the GU17s British Championships (after having finished 2nd, 2nd, 3rd three years in a row).
Came fourth in the US open U17s (2018) and U19s (2019).
And came second in the European Open U19s, 2019.
So just what does it take to become that driven and successful at such a young age?
I’ve come to realise that you really need to love what you’re doing, to succeed in it. For many sports, money can be the driving force to succeed, but squash doesn’t necessarily have that. It’s not yet an Olympic sport and may not be for the next 12 years, but I’ve come to accept that. I love squash because of the game: the pace, the pressure, the intensity. Once you’re in that box with only your opponent, nothing else can drive you to win but yourself.
The training, fitness and dietary requirements are extremely demanding. I train six days a week, roughly nine hours on court and six hours off court in the gym or cycling/running. I train in the morning before school, sometimes during my lunch break and most evenings after school. I train 15 hours a week and spend roughly 6 hours driving back and forth to training.
Like anything, the more you love something, the more competitive you get towards it. About a year ago it began to take a toll on my mental state. Nerves got the better of me and I found the process extremely demanding. Thanks to sponsors, I now have a strong team around me including a sports psychologist who I speak to monthly and when I’m travelling for tournaments.
Competing over the weekends does mean I have to take time off school and catch up on work. Balancing studies and squash is a struggle, but if you love what you study and the sport you play, you will find the time to succeed in both. Squash does limit my social life, but I made that choice and accepted that some weekends I can’t meet up with friends or go out late.
My drive comes from watching my favourite squash players win major titles, because I know they were once where I am, and if they can do it... why can’t I?
How has life been at Woodhouse for you?
"Woodhouse has allowed me to achieve my dream of going to America. Not only did I make the best friends, but the teachers and Mr Rubinstein were so supportive, they always allowed me to have the time off I needed and made sure I had all the work to catch up on.
I choose to study at Woodhouse because I knew it would be a challenge and a great preparation for university life. At Woodhouse you need to be extremely independent and self-driven - of course, the support and resources are there, but they don’t spoon feed you. Failure truly isn’t an option at Woodhouse, there are so many resources to keep you on the right track and guide you to success.
I will miss the environment, it is such a busy, welcoming school. And of course, I’ll miss all my friends."
Do you have any time at all for other interests?
"Oh yes. My other interests include, art, nature and traveling. I absolutely love being creative; working with textiles, designing my own clothes, making collages. I’m also very adventurous, I love travelling and exploring nature. Every year I go camping with the Woodcraft Folk where we do outdoor activities and team bonding.
Are you worried by the fact you’ll be moving so far away from home?
"I’m just itching to go now! There’s been so much anticipation up to this moment that I just want to start tomorrow. I’m going to miss my family hugely and not being able to pop back on the weekends is quite daunting. But I’ve heard that the squash team at Drexel are like a family and I’m so excited to be a part of it. Knowing a few of the girls on the team already is definitely going to calm my nerves."
How has the Covid-19 lockdown affected everything for you?
"Adapting to lockdown has been difficult. Firstly, A levels coming to a halt and being CANCELLED was a huge shock to everyone! I’m keeping myself busy by learning around my subjects and I’ve started learning Spanish, because… why not?
Obviously at the moment I can’t play squash. My coach and I have made a timetable of ways to train and still keep up my strength and fitness."
And the ultimate goal?
"This time away from squash has made me realise how much I actually love it, and one day I want to reach top 20 in the world."
We are absolutely convinced that Margot has what it takes to be top 20, and when the world is well enough to open up again, wish her every success in squash and in the USA. A truly inspiring Woodhouse student.

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