Giegerich brothers redefine sibling duos on the squash courts

by Danielle Okonta | 2/13/17 2:15am

Many students on Dartmouth’s campus have been fortunate enough to have younger siblings follow in their footsteps to take advantage of what the Big Green offers. If they are lucky enough to attend Dartmouth at the same time, they can share in the opportunities open to students while creating their own individual identities. This is true of the Giegerich brothers. Brian Giegerich ’18 and Matt Giegerich ’19 are not only among the community of siblings on campus but are also two talented athletes on the men’s squash team.

The Giegerich Brothers grew up in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, a suburban town located right outside Philadelphia. Both Brian and Matt attended and graduated from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. While there, they played a variety of sports, including soccer, baseball and wrestling, until squash became the focus.

“I was 7 years old when I started playing,” Brian said. “My brother and I kind of played it on and off before we became serious about it.”

Their parents reacted to the brothers’ passion in squash very differently.

“My dad was quite unfamiliar with the sport,” Matt said. “He wanted us to participate in a sport that was more common and masculine in the sense that it had the same level of intensity as football or wrestling. He was a football player and wrestler at [the University of Pennsylvania], so he had originally wanted us to follow in those footsteps.”

Upon discovering that their interests lay in squash, their mother, unlike their father, was eager to get them started.

“My mom signed us up for a clinic, without my dad knowing, and we started playing,” Matt said. “We participated in a few tournaments and casual competitions. We participated in wrestling for two years in middle school and then later transitioned into pursuing squash completely.”

Despite his initial opposition to the brothers joining the sport, their father grew to be more familiar with squash, eventually becoming his sons’ biggest fan. He drove them to compete in tournaments across the Northeast. With their father’s support, the Giegerich brothers became more serious about pursuing the sport at the collegiate level.

They led Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s squash team to third place in the 2014 U.S. High School Team Squash Championship. By the end of his senior year, Brian had finished in the top 16 at the U.S. Nationals and had been named to the All Inter Academic First Team and All Mid Atlantic Squash Association team. Likewise, Matt finished third in the U.S. Nationals in the BU19 age division and was honored with the DeRoy Sportsmanship Award. When asked how Dartmouth came to be the next stepping stone for their academic and athletic careers, they expressed similar sentiments as to why Dartmouth was the right fit.

“Dartmouth was my favorite school from the beginning,” Brian said. “I had visited seven to 10 schools in the Northeast but was more drawn to Dartmouth. I really like that Dartmouth is in this rural environment with a nice, quaint little town next to its beautiful campus. I went to a much smaller high school than most people, so I was happy to join Dartmouth’s close community.”

Matt added that he loves the inclusive academic environment that Dartmouth promotes.

“Dartmouth has a top-notch academic program,” Matt said. “I really like that most of the classes are smaller and that students can get a lot of interaction with professors. There is a strong emphasis and focus on undergraduate learning.”

After playing on the same high school team growing up, the Giegerich brothers noted that playing on the same college team has been a privilege.

“I was a little nervous about Matt joining the team,” Brian said. “I had a year at Dartmouth and with the squash team and had found my place. I wasn’t sure how Matt coming in would impact my experience, but so far it has been incredibly positive. He’s been well-received by everyone on the team, has been a great player, and our relationship has benefited from it.”

Both Giegerich brothers discussed how despite being brothers, they are also individual athletes with different strengths and weaknesses. Hansi Wiens, head coach of Dartmouth men’s and women’s squash, noted some of the different contributions the two have made to the team.

“Brian has shown that he is very passionate about the sport,” Wiens said. “He trains quite well and certainly leads by example. Matt is a very special athlete on the team and is known for scoring big points at important competitions.”

Wiens can also see the similarities and differences in their personalities as well.

“Brian is a little more reserved than Matt,” Wiens said. “Matt is pretty outspoken and quite outgoing.”

The Giegerich brothers can attest to that opinion.

“In some situations, I can be more outgoing than Brian,” Matt said. “In other situations, Brian might be more outgoing. I tend to joke around a lot and I would say that Brian can be more serious.”

Brian echoed a similar sentiment.

“Matt is pretty good at making people laugh,” Brian said. “I would say that while I am still outgoing, I can be a little more reserved in some situations. We are both very serious when it comes to squash but off the courts, Matt is lively and quite the comedian whereas I stay calm and collected.”

Brian and Matt’s similar yet different personalities rarely clash. Matt’s gregariousness and Brian’s easygoing personality only make them complement each other as siblings and teammates.

Yesterday, the men’s squash team hosted and competed against Brown University. This upcoming weekend, the team will travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts for the Men’s Championship.