For Frank and Nancy Cushman, squash -- the sport -- is...


November 29, 1992|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

For Frank and Nancy Cushman, squash -- the sport -- is what 0) it's all about

To Frank and Nancy Cushman, squash isn't a sport. It's life.

The couple met during a squash lesson, rank eighth nationally in mixed doubles and spend most of their time surrounded by squash courts.

Hence, their nickname: "the first family of squash."

As co-owners (with another couple) of the new Meadow Mill Athletic Club in Woodberry, they are out to promote squash as fitness for the whole family. It's not elitist, it's not impossible to learn, and squash is not, as one member recently joked, just a vegetable.

Between them, the couple have some 40 years' experience playing the game. Until recently, they coached the women's squash team at the Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Cushman, 42, is a five-time women's state champion; Mr. Cushman, 43, has been the pro at four different clubs.

"And," he says proudly, "no other married couple has ever beat us."

So far, more than 250 squash players have signed up, and the Cushmans are expanding their juniors' program. Their own 9-year-old daughter, Krista, has taken up squash, but also plays a "mean game of pool," Mr. Cushman says.

The Cushmans, who have a home in Ruxton, say living and working together hasn't caused problems.

"We call it an interesting mesh of talents," says Ms. Cushman, who considers herself the more organized of the two.

It helps that they have previous experience in running a business. For seven years, they had the Racquet Club of Roland Park. Two years after it opened, the no-frills gym had a full membership and an affectionate if sardonic nickname: "the palace."

Meadow Mill -- with its sauna, whirlpool, juice bar and state-of-the-art equipment -- is more deserving of such praise.

"The real beauty of this business is that you're dealing with people at recess," says Mr. Cushman. "And they thank us for it."

When Frances Cockey's great-uncle died several years ago, she went to his home to clean out the two-story bungalow before it went up for auction.

Amid the dust and dirt, she discovered her past.

Stored in an attic were five wooden trunks filled with family memorabilia. For months, Ms. Cockey combed through them -- finding such treasures as her great-grandparents' marriage license from 1881, a leather-bound Bible, and bundles of love letters, cards and receipts.

"I thought, 'My family history is right here, tucked away in this attic,' " says Ms. Cockey, a mother of two who lives in Ashburton. (She declines to give her age, saying simply, "I'm not old enough for Social Security.")

Rather than keep these finds in the family, she has shared them with schools and groups around the state. In her presentation, "My Grandmother's Trunk," she traces her family to Baltimore County in the 1800s. (On Friday at 1 p.m., she'll be speaking at the Bykota Senior Center in Towson.)

"I wanted to help children develop an interest in their heritage," says Ms. Cockey.

"When I grew up, everything centered around the family. Now many people don't realize how important family is."

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