Chris Abplanalp, a former New England Small College Athletic Conference All-American athlete and a successful head coach at St. Lawrence University, is the new head coach of the Colby College men's and women's squash programs.
Abplanalp coached the St. Lawrence men's team to four straight College Squash Association (CSA) Final Four appearances from 2015 to 2018, including a national runner-up finish in 2015. The women's team won the Liberty League title last year.
"Chris is one of the top squash coaches in the county," said Jake Olkkola, Colby's Harold Alfond Director of Athletics. "He is a proven educator who’s demonstrated the ability to build nationally competitive squash programs. We are extremely excited to welcome him and his family to Waterville."
Abplanalp is a native of Canton, N.Y., where St. Lawrence is located. He has served as head men's and women's coach of the Saints for the past 13 years and says this was the right opportunity at the right place at the right time.
"It's great to be returning to the NESCAC. Having been a two-sport athlete myself, I appreciate the focus on and development of student athletes as a whole," Abplanalp said. "The combination of strong academics and high-performing athletics offers students the ability to achieve their potential both in the classroom and on the playing field ."
Besides the CSA Final Four appearances, Abplanalp coached the men's program to seven Liberty League titles, including the past five championships. He also was a six-time Liberty League Coach of the Year. Abplanalp coached St. Lawrence's first CSA individual champion in 2013.
Over his time with the Saints, Abplanalp coached 18 All-Americans, 17 Liberty League major award winners, and had players earn 71 all-conference honors.
The women's program continued to improve under Abplanalp's leadership, moving from a ranking of 29 in 2010-11 to 22nd in 2016-17. The Liberty League reinstated women's squash as a championship-sponsored sport prior to the 2017-18 season. Abplanalp led the Saints to the league title, received the CSA's Chaffee Award for sportsmanship in 2018, and had the Liberty League Rookie of the Year. The women’s program earned the CSA Most Improved Team Award in 2014.
"It takes a lot of hard work to build a successful program that can continually compete at the highest level year in and year out," said Abplanalp, who is a member of the CSA executive committee. "I have confidence in the direction Colby athletics is headed and feel we can develop a strong and lasting tradition of success in the squash program."
Abplanalp was an All-American lacrosse player and also played ice hockey at Connecticut College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1999. He received his master's degree from St. Lawrence in 2003. Abplanalp was an assistant men's lacrosse coach at St. Lawrence from 1999 to 2007.
"The people at Colby made me feel right at home the minute I stepped on campus. I feel confident in the leadership at Colby, and I'm looking forward to building on what is already a strong foundation in athletics."