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2013 December Update
SquashBusters might be older, but it certainly isn't any slower. As the program enters its 18th year of serving kids, incredible things are happening on all fronts. Enrollment is at an all-time high of 178 Boston and Lawrence students. Fifty wonderful middle schoolers just joined our family after eight weeks of tryouts. This year's graduating senior class is comprised of twenty four young men and women all working hard to apply to college. Our students are studying, exercising, playing tournaments, serving community, visiting private school and college campuses, spending time with mentors and preparing for the SSAT and SAT tests. Two events have been held – the Fall Ball hosted by the Young Leadership Committee and the MashUp, Lawrence's version of the SQB Derby which is slated for May 2 and May 3. The staff is as inspiring as our students – they work incredibly hard and care so much. Our volunteers also keep on coming, ensuring that every SQB student gets the attention they need to flourish.
Two great newspaper stories on SquashBusters and the Urban Squash movement were published the second week of December. One is a story on urban squash in the Wall Street Journal featuring two program graduates playing Ivy League Varsity Squash. The other is the front page feature story in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune highlighting the tremendous success of SquashBusters Lawrence.
SquashBusters is the original urban squash and education program founded in Boston in 1996. Today, almost twenty years later, it has inspired its own replication in 14 other U.S. Cities and it has begun its own successful expansion in the Merrimack Valley. Our program has touched the lives of thousands of people across the country and in Massachusetts.
MashUp Success in Lawrence
The first-ever SquashBusters MashUp, held at Brooks School on Sunday, December 15 was a huge success. The MashUp, a squash competition and party to raise awareness of and support for SquashBusters Lawrence, drew a crowd of over 100 people, despite the wintery weather. The squash competition featured four teams composed of Merrimack Valley community members, Phillips Academy and Brooks students, SquashBusters students, and current or former professional squash players. All four teams showed great effort and sportsmanship on court, but in the end, the Andover Academics, captained by Ed Krapels and anchored by PA Head of School, John Palfrey; board member and PA alumnus, Jon Karlen; SQB alumna, Ashley Brooks and SQB senior, Kadeem Murrell, emerged victorious, winning the 2013 Mash Cup. The same team won this year’s Golden Mill Award, which is given to the team that raises the most funding.
Thanks to more than 300 generous donors, the event raised $250,000 for the Lawrence site of SquashBusters, an after school youth development program that combines the sport of squash with academic enrichment and community service. This funding will help sustain the Lawrence site, and will allow the program to grow and accept a new class of sixth grade students every fall from its two partner middle schools, the Emily G. Wetherbee School and Arlington Middle School. It will also ensure that the program will be able to continue working with students from the time they join the program in sixth grade all the way through college graduation. This long-term approach, which focuses on building meaningful relationships with students, is key to the SquashBusters model. Huge credit is due to the program’s generous supporters, as well as its two site partners – Brooks School and Phillips Academy – which donate classroom and court access, and provide the program with volunteer support throughout the academic year. SquashBusters looks forward to continuing these partnerships in the years to come, and to a bright future in Lawrence.
Our Growing Family
Fifty more hard working, caring Boston and Lawrence middle school students joined SquashBusters this fall. These students were chosen from our three Boston school partners – the Timilty and O’Bryant Schools in Roxbury and the Rogers School in Hyde Park and our two Lawrence school partners – the Wetherbee and Arlington Schools. It is no small feat earning a spot on the SquashBusters team. Aspiring students have to show up three times per week, including Saturday mornings, for intensive fitness, squash practice, and no-nonsense academics. Students understand that SquashBusters cares most about gritty commitment, hard work, sportsmanship and fair play. The program seeks kids who possess character and motivation, both of which get tested over eight weeks of tryouts. These fifty inspiring recruits emerged out of a group of more than 400 Boston and Lawrence students initially exposed to the opportunity.
SquashBusters will host its 8th Derby on Friday May 2 (doubles play at the University Club) and Saturday May 3 (singles and party at SquashBusters). This year’s running endeavors to involve 72 generous and committed amateurs, as well as SquashBuster high school players and world class professionals. Already two former world #1 players, Peter Nicol and Jonathon Power, have agreed to post up. MFS returns as our Title Sponsor. We invite anyone to contact us who is keen to compete and help raise funding for SQB.