She would not have changed a thing about her collegiate experience at Brown, but then again, as a four-time All-America squash standout, there wasn't much room for regrets from Devon Kennedy.
The Brown women's squash team of the late 1990s was not that competitive. With a combined record of 3-18 from 1996 to 1999, the team never finished higher than fourth in Ivy competition. But to Devon Kennedy, "I wouldn't have chosen any other team to play for. On a lot of teams there's competition within the team, and that doesn't create the best atmosphere. We were very supportive."
It's hard to argue with her logic. During her four years at Brown Kennedy was a four-year first-team All-Ivy and first-team All-American pick. In 1999 she was named to the Ivy League's Silver Anniversary Team.
Brown was the place for Kennedy from the moment she first visited campus. "I got a really positive feeling when I visited even though it was pouring rain," she remembers. "Squash played a major factor in my decision. I knew I wanted to play seriously in college and had to find a place that would enable me to do this."
Kennedy started playing squash when "I was around 12 or 13 years old. Squash was a great outlet. Many of my friends played. My father also played and we began to play together." Squash became a constant. "I played in so many tournaments growing up, there was a group of us that competed and were very competitive with each other," she recalls. "It was a network of friends."
It must have also been an intensely competitive squash experience, for the people she played against were nothing less than a roster of future All-American and first-team All-Ivy players: high school teammate Elise O'Connell (Princeton) and tournament competitors Julia Beaver (Princeton), Blair Irwin (Princeton), Stephanie Teaford (Harvard) and Laurie Sykes (Dartmouth).
At Brown "it was actually helpful to have squash practice every day. I function well when I have a set schedule and a routine," she remembers. She was even able to pursue an independent study real estate project senior year. Majoring in organizational behavior and management, Kennedy graduated in 1999.
After spending three years in San Francisco exploring different businesses, Kennedy returned to Philadelphia, worked in her family's commercial real estate business -- and liked it. "It's a small commercial developer, we own and lease out properties," she says. "I like working with the tenants."
Did her athletic experiences play a role in her career choice? "I am a competitive person, probably from being involved in athletics growing up," says Kennedy. "I had to make sure my career was challenging."
She just returned to Philadelphia and the family business after earning her M.B.A. from the Kenan School of Business at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She's also engaged to be married next Labor Day.
And she still plays squash. "It's one of the great things about squash," she says, "at any age you can find people to play with, you can play all your life."
"I loved Brown," concludes Kennedy. "If I had to do it over again, I would have definitely gone to Brown. I made great friends, loved the classes and loved my squash team!"
— Stephen Eschenbach