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Twenty Years and Counting
In June, SquashBusters closed the books on its twentieth program year. It was another season of record-breaking achievement, recently capped off by the Urban Individual Nationals, where our students demonstrated incredible tenacity, talent and sportsmanship. In our June update, you can read about the tournament as well as the plans of the class of 2016, the MFS SquashBusters Derby, and some comings and goings on our Board of Directors.
An Incredible Weekend of Urban Squash
Over the weekend of June 17-19, SquashBusters took its annual trip west, heading to Williams and Amherst colleges for the 14th Urban Individual Squash Championships held by the National Urban Squash and Education Association (NUSEA). SquashBusters brought 83 excited middle and high school students from Boston and Lawrence, comprising nearly 20% of the 400 urban squash players across both campuses.
The event showcased the incredible talent, sportsmanship, and grit that are the hallmarks of every urban squash program. The weekend is a favorite of many SquashBusters students – largely because it gives them a taste of college life, from sleeping in the dorms and eating in the dining halls to playing on the university courts and touring the academic facilities. “The tournament is a lot of fun because not only do you get to spend time with students in your own program, you also get to see friends you’ve made in other programs from all over the country and world. Spending time on a college campus especially gives juniors and seniors a feel for college. From having a roommate to sharing a bathroom and respecting the space of the other students around you, you really get to picture yourself in college”, says Pedro Leta-Flores, a SquashBusters senior who spent the weekend at Amherst College for his fifth UIN tournament.
As always, competition was tough this year, but SquashBusters was proud to see students distinguish themselves both on and off the court. SQB Lawrence ninth-grader, Melbin Rojas, was the winner of the BU17B draw, while three SquashBusters players were finalists in their respective draws: SQB Lawrence sixth-grader Amaiya Lu (GU13B), SQB Boston eighth-grader Marangela James (GU15B), and SQB Boston junior Matthew Nwaford (BU17A). In addition, SQB Boston junior Jose Soto was honored with the Under 19 Academic Award. Notable SquashBusters results are listed below.
“One of my favorite parts of the weekend is watching our students walking through the Williams and Amherst campuses – to and from the dining halls, the dorms and the squash facilities. As soon as they arrive, they feel at home, and quickly reconnect with old friends and make new ones. It’s inspiring to see so many students from so many programs, and SquashBusters always has a large and positive influence on the weekend,” said Tim Wyant, NUSEA Executive Director.
We are so thankful to Williams College and Amherst College for graciously hosting the Urban Individual Squash Championships, and to the staff at NUSEA for putting together this wonderful event year after year.
Winner (First place)
Melbin Rojas, 9th grade, BU17B
Finalist (Second place)
Amaiya Lu, 6th grade, GU13B
Marangela James, 8th grade, GU15B
Matthew Nwaford, 11th grade, BU17A
Cynthia Gomez, 7th grade, GU13B
Kaetu Wleh, 9th grade, BU15A
Kira Tejeda, 11th grade, GU17A
June Zhang, 8th grade, GU15B
Edward Arias-Diaz, 11th grade, BU19A
Jennifer Mbah, 11th grade, GU19A
Classic Plate Winner (Fifth place)
Colin Ye, 8th grade, BU15B
Valerie Rosario, 7th grade, GU15B
Congratulations, class of 2016!
SquashBusters is so excited to offer our heartfelt congratulations to our graduating high school seniors, who are ready to take on the world with SquashBusters in their corner! We are so proud of our 18 graduates, who are setting off on various post-secondary paths:
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Pine Manor College
Rochester Institute of Technology
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Salem State University: Summer Bridge Academy
Salem State University
|PEDRO LETA FLORES
St. Lawrence University
These students have worked incredibly hard to get where they’re going, and this year was no exception. Together with their mentors, SquashBusters staff, and their families, the class of 2016 logged hundreds of hours editing college essays, filling out applications and financial aid forms, and researching and applying for scholarships. As a result, they collectively received 111 acceptances and earned over $433,369 in grants and scholarships. In a world where students are graduating with increasingly unmanageable amounts of debt, our students will graduate with less than half the national four-year average of $28,950.
SquashBusters is so glad that we can remain a supportive resource for our alumni in college, and that their relationships with us don’t sever once they’ve graduated from the program. SQB alumnus and College and Alumni Success Coordinator Mikhail Darlington will be checking in regularly with the class of 2016 once the school year begins, just as he does with all of our college students, to ensure they are academically, socially and financially thriving and on track to make it to another graduation day.
Speaking of which, we are thrilled to congratulate our four alumni who graduated from college this May:
IVA BETH KIRNON
SquashBusters Celebrates 10th Derby with $1.2 Million Raised
In an awe-inspiring show of support for SquashBusters’ twentieth year, members of the Boston community rallied together to raise over $1.2 million for the tenth MFS SquashBusters Derby at the University Club of Boston on Friday, May 6th and at SquashBusters on Saturday, May 7th.
With help MFS Investment Management, who generously signed on as the event’s title sponsor for the fifth year in a row, and Westfield Capital, SquashBusters raised a record-breaking amount for its program – the final tally coming in at $1,241,720.
The Derby, which is a pro-amateur squash competition that takes place each May, brings together supporters from all over the world who commit to fundraising at least $5,000 for their spot as a doubles or singles player on one of the eight competing teams. This year, MFS Chairman and co-CEO Rob Manning and CFO Amrit Kanwal both supported the event and played doubles for Wallbanger, the defending champions who won the competition for the eighth year in a row after a rematch of last year’s finals against runner-up Eijk’s Knights.
While Wallbanger took home the trophy as winners of the squash competition, each year the Derby also recognizes the individual who raises the most on behalf of the program through the coveted Secretariat Award. This year’s cup was presented to two Board members: Sandy Tierney, Executive Vice-President at McCall & Almy and David Drubner, Executive Director at The Baupost Group; each of whom raised nearly $95,000 to support the nearly 300 Boston and Lawrence youth who benefit from the SquashBusters program.
In addition to MFS, corporate sponsors of the event include Westfield Capital Management, Audax Group, Berkshire Partners, Brown Brothers Harriman, Carousel Industries, Clough Capital Partners, Deloitte, Ernst & Young LLP, Folger Hill Asset Management, General Catalyst Partners, Kohlberg & Associates, McCall & Almy, National Development/Charles River Realty Investors, New Balance, William O’Neil & Co., Sapient Global Markets, State Street Corporation, Sun Life Investment Management, Thermo Fisher Scientific, TOG and UBS.
On Saturday, supporters filled the SquashBusters facility on the Northeastern University campus, to watch singles matches and enjoy a cocktail party and a speaking program featuring remarks from graduating SquashBusters senior Yaritza Amado, a student at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury.
“It has been said that SquashBusters is like a family. To me, it is much more than that,” said Amado, who will be attending Providence College in the fall. “SquashBusters has been central to every experience I’ve enjoyed, every relationship I’ve benefited from, every goal I’ve set, and every hope I’ve had since I joined four years ago.”
In addition to the fundraising players, fifteen world-class squash professionals came out to the event, including former World No. 1’s Thierry Lincou, Peter Nicol, David Palmer and Jonathon Power, as well as current World No. 8 Amanda Sobhy, who played on the first-ever all-women’s Derby team, Unbridled.
“The Derby makes the SquashBusters program possible. It is by far our most significant annual fundraising effort,” said Greg Zaff, SquashBusters CEO and founder. “We are sincerely grateful to all of the players and fundraisers who are the engine that drives the event’s success each year.”
SquashBusters Bids Fond Farewell to Longstanding Board Members
On Tuesday, June 21, the SquashBusters Board of Directors gathered at a favorite restaurant – Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger in Wellesley – to celebrate, honor and express their thanks to five outgoing members: Lenny Bernheimer, Sandy Tierney, Errin Siagel, Tom Poor and Amrit Kanwal. These generous individuals are passing the torch after a collective term of almost 100 years.
It is impossible to adequately capture their contributions, both to SquashBusters and to Greg. They have invested thousands of hours of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars of financial support. All in, they have served as Board Chair, Development Chair, Investment Chair, Treasurer/Finance Chair and Derby Chair. They were there at
the University Club when the idea for SquashBusters and urban squash was first brought into being.They were there when SquashBusters leased its first van, graduated its first student, and deposited its first donation. They presided over the construction of our youth center at Northeastern University, our Lawrence expansion and our current plans to build a home in Providence with Moses Brown School. They have mentored students and staff and are responsible for the Derby growing to become the $1m+ MFS SquashBusters Derby. The list carries on and words cannot describe the depth of the contribution that these five amazing people have made to SquashBusters. Thank you Lenny, Sandy, Errin, Tom, and Amrit!
The Board also extends a warm welcome to its four newest members – Philomena Mantella, David Antonelli, Bill Paine and Henry Manice. Philomena is Senior Vice President/CEO of Northeastern’s Global Network. She has and will continue to play a key role in supporting our vital partnership with the university, and she is integrally involved with Northeastern’s Torch Scholars and Foundation Year programs, which have paved the way for several SQB graduates to enroll in Northeastern. David is Vice Chairman of Investment at MFS. He has been tremendously supportive of the Derby and will lend his expertise to our Expansion Committee’s facility work in Lawrence and Providence. Bill, a partner at WilmerHale, is a member of the Lawrence Leadership Council, a MashUp player, and a generous contributor and fundraiser for the program. Henry, co-founder of Mighty Squirrel, is a MashUp player and a generous donor. Henry plans to get very involved in helping with our Providence expansion and also intends to be a mentor to our students.