A bit of an introvert, Todd Harrity works well alone. But he surprised himself in Egypt, where he competed against some of the world’s best squash players, benefitted from elite-level coaching, savored the welcoming culture and truly connected with the Egyptian people. “The culture there is warm and hospitable,” he says. “In Egypt, it’s easy to make friends quickly. You talk to them for five minutes, and they invite you over for dinner.”
Returning to the area this past summer, one of the nation’s top players is hoping to use the lessons he learned in Egypt—and in England before that—to improve his national and world rankings. This past fall, he was fifth in the U.S. and 39th in the world. That’s no mean feat when you consider the highest-ranked American is 31st. And Harrity is 32, which is considered older for high-level players.
Scott Devoy is a New Zealand native, the U.S. Junior National Team coach and director of squash at Merion Cricket Club. He’s worked with Harrity for nearly 20 years and applauds his focus and skill. “He absolutely can move up,” says Devoy. “It’s a matter of him having confidence to be more and more consistent. He can’t worry about his ranking. That will take care of itself.”
Harrity grew up in Wayne and graduated from Episcopal Academy in 2009. He started playing squash seriously at the Cricket Club when he was 12 years old.
He won his first competition that year, and his journey to the upper reaches of the world squash community has included four all-American years at Princeton University, several national age-group titles and four championships on the Professional Squash Association world tour. Harrity is quite aware that his time is somewhat limited. He’s already started thinking of ways he’ll use the psychology degree he earned at Princeton, and his experiences living in other countries have led him to consider another foreign sojourn.
For now, Harrity is happy to have full access to the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia, which opened this year and goes well beyond anything that’s existed for the sport in this country. Timmy Brownell has been watching Harrity play “since I can remember” and calls him the “Toddfather.” “He has the game to support success,” says Brownell, who’s ranked second in the nation. “A lot of people rely on physicality to win. Todd has that, but he relies on his skill. He can dispatch guys quickly, and that helps him have longevity.”
When Harrity was at EA, he was also known around school for his cross-country prowess. He was the best runner in the Inter-Ac League and among the finest in the area. And though he was also a high-level tennis player, squash has always been his true passion. His parents played, and his uncle, Tom, spent a few years on the pro tour.
In high school, Harrity often struggled to find good competition. When he reached Princeton, that changed—but even there, he was a powerhouse. He won the national title in 2011 and was twice named the Ivy League Player of the Year. In 2012, he helped Princeton end Trinity College’s 13-year run as team national champ and brought the trophy to central New Jersey for the first time since 1993.
Graduating from Princeton in 2013, Harrity turned pro immediately. By the end of the following year, he had a pair of PSA Tour wins on his resume. He also won events in 2018 and 2021. “He manages to keep himself calm under pressure,” Devoy says. “He doesn’t get flustered. In his early days of competing, people couldn’t figure out if he was stressed or happy. He doesn’t give you much. He can concentrate and stay focused on the task.”
Brownell trains with Harrity as often as he can and marvels at his ability to control the game. “His technique is almost flawless,” he says. “There are not many holes in his swing. That allows him to place the ball wherever he wants. He also moves quite lightly on his feet. He has no weaknesses.”
In 2018, while he was ranked number one in the U.S., Harrity came out as a gay man—a first for a pro squash player. “I have decided to come out because I am convinced that having everybody know this about me is the only way I can be truly content,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
While it was news at the time, four years later, Harrity doesn’t consider it noteworthy. “Honestly, I don’t think about it that much,” he says. “I thought it was really necessary for me to do it to be free and get rid of some baggage. It’s not a priority of mine to be remembered or known for that.”
As Harrity continues his career and approaches what could be a last chapter, he points to top players like England’s Nick Matthew, who played until he was 38, and James Wilstrop, another Brit still competing at 39. “There are players who’ve retired by now, but it does seem that athletes who continue to compete are older and older,” he says. “There are still players playing at really high levels in their mid-’30s.”
There’s little reason to believe Harrity can’t join them.