Humans of Harker: From courts to computers

Aditya Roy balances individuality and community with squash and video games


Esha Gohil

“The main lesson I learned was to keep doing what I wanted to do whether or not people really have anything else to say. I’ve stuck with squash because I enjoyed it, not really because I was that amazing at it or that I was some prodigy. It was about how fun I really found the sport and continuing to do what I liked,” Aditya Roy (12) said.

Picture playing tennis with a friend on a sunny court. Then, imagine that you’re playing with a rubber ball instead, smaller and much faster than a tennis ball. Next, visualize four walls around the court, creating tighter boundaries and extra surfaces. Finally, suppose that each shot must hit the back wall. Other tweaks besides, you’re now playing squash. Throughout high school, many Harker students make the decision to play a school-offered sport, such as basketball, football, soccer or golf. But Aditya Roy (12) chose to pursue the game of squash.

Squash is a niche game, often overshadowed by larger sports that enjoy more international attention. Aditya initially began playing squash in sixth grade as simply an outlet for exercise. But as Aditya grew to enjoy the sport, he began to dedicate more time towards practicing squash.

“I played tennis for four years [before], so that was my first introduction to racquet sports. I had a couple friends who already played squash, so I decided to give it a try. And I ended up enjoying it, and I’ve stuck with it ever since,” Aditya said.

Having played squash for almost seven years, Aditya has improved tremendously in his playing skill and attended many tournaments, earning the distinction of second place finalist on several occasions.

“I felt like I really had a knack for the game in the beginning, but there’s a harder learning curve than most sports. You really have to know where to place the ball every single time, which gets really difficult,” Aditya said. “I wasn’t taking it too hard that I didn’t win first place. The fact that I was able to reach finals really hyped me up. I was happy about it; it was more about enjoying the sport to me.”

Aditya enjoys the aspects of squash that are particular to the sport and appreciates the opportunity to channel his energy through playing squash.

“I like the different pace – it’s much faster than tennis, I felt, because the ball is so much smaller, it’s coming at you really fast. You have to have a lot of strength to really do well in squash,” Aditya. “I love how fast it is and how technical you have to be in squash because it’s way harder than hitting a ball on a wall  – you have to know where your opponent is at all times, how fast you want to hit the ball, and which spot on the wall you want the ball to hit.”

Through squash, Aditya has learned to keep doing activities that he enjoys whether or not they may be difficult or sometimes discouraging.

“The main lesson I learned was to keep doing what I wanted to do whether or not people really have anything else to say. I’ve stuck with squash because I enjoyed it, not really because I was that amazing at it or that I was some prodigy. It was about how fun I really found the sport and continuing to do what I liked,” Aditya said.

Besides helping Aditya stay physically active, the sport has also allowed Aditya to build his own unique path.

“I’ve grown mentally stronger. It gives me more of a sense of individuality, [whereas] a lot of other sports are very team-based. And I don’t mind being team-based, but sometimes I like getting into my own zone. It’s like an escape for me,” Aditya said.

Aditya is thankful that he has had the opportunity to play squash and learn valuable lessons from the sport.

“There are more opportunities in the Bay Area than in a lot of other places in the world in the U.S. So I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t be able to,” Aditya said.

Though Aditya finds joy in building his individuality through squash, he also enjoys team bonding and building connections with his friends. Close friend Zain Awais (12) noted that Aditya is open around his friends and channels his energy into friendships.

“[Aditya’s] very outgoing. He’s someone who’ll be the first one to talk,” Zain said. “He’s a very energetic person. And because of that, he doesn’t have to have a limiter on himself. He doesn’t really need to have a filter – he can be really energetic or boisterous or even randomly start singing. He’s a free spirit.”

Aditya enjoys bonding with his friends, and especially during the lockdown, he has been able to stay connected with his friends through playing video games together.

“One similarity between me and a lot of my friends is that we play video games. So obviously, if you share [an interest] with your friends, you want to do it together with them,” Aditya said. “I play games a lot for the social aspect of it. It’s of the ways that I can socialize, especially with quarantine – we can’t really meet as often [in person]. So playing games with my friends is one thing that kept me going through quarantine.”

Aditya carries his energetic personality wherever he goes – not just when playing video games with his friends.

“In-game and in class in a group, he acts the same way; he tries to make the best of the situation and he’s funny and he cracks jokes, and those serve to lighten the mood,” close friend Kishan Sood (12) said.

Whereas Aditya plays squash best by himself, he finds it much better to play video games with his friends.

“Playing by myself, I don’t really have anything to talk about or much to do. If you play by yourself, it’s just a distraction. When I’m playing with others, I feel like it’s productive because I get to socialize with my friends,” Aditya said.

There still remain similarities between squash and video games. Both require a player to be constantly alert and think out of the box. 

“The biggest game that I’ve been playing for the longest is Rocket League. I first got into that really early – 2015. I played with a bunch of friends. Recently, there’s been a resurgence in the game’s popularity, and the main part of it is that you can be super creative and do whatever you want. [Videogaming] also requires you to have pretty fast reflexes. You need to always be attentive. You can’t be slouching at all,” Aditya said.

No matter whether Aditya is playing squash solo or enjoying time bonding with his friends over video games, he carries his energy and openness to all his activities, allowing him to excel while still enjoying himself.

“[Aditya’s] very passionate and wears his emotions on his sleeve – whenever he’s thinking, he’ll put his thoughts out there. There’s no hiding anything with him,” Kishan said. “That’s one thing I’ll definitely remember about him: his personality and his passion.”

Additional reporting by Saurav Tewari.