Programming in Boston has gotten off to a hot start, with a record number of squash competitions already in the books. The Varsity team went 9-2 overall this season with wins over rivals Brookline and Needham High. We sent 6 teams to the Squash and Educational Alliance Team Nationals in Philadelphia, and 5 of the 6 finished in the top 5.
Academically students received both group and individual tutoring through our partnerships with the Northeastern ACES and Community Service Learning programs. Some students have already begun to decide on their next step with early decisions at Union College and Northeastern University. As always, however, the themes of community and exploration have been woven into everything that we do. Our students participated in the annual Pine Street Inn Giveback, where they made 60 gift bags of essential products for the homeless population in Boston.
Students were taught basic CPR skills from a local organization, Progress First Aid, and will be tapping into their entrepreneurial side by creating a consumer product through the Build organization. They also had the opportunity to learn about colleges and trade programs directly from institutions such as Amherst College, Williams College, Carnegie Mellon University, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, as well as Wentworth Institute of Technology. All in all, it has been an exciting start to the year, with much more to come!
Lawrence has been focused on recruiting our middle school teams. The staff visited 6th through 8th-grade classes at the Arlington Middle School to introduce students to SQB. More than 110 students signed up for gym clinics the following week, and we invited 48 students to try out. At the end of an 8-week tryout period where students participated in every aspect of programming, we welcomed 24 new students onto the SquashBusters team!
As if the beginning of the year wasn’t exciting enough already, our annual fundraiser, the Mash-Up was a great success. We surpassed our goal of $425,000 and raised $440,900! The students had a great time interacting with the pros and other players, and our student/alum speakers gave heartfelt speeches that brought down the house.
With limited court access, the Lawrence team found ways to maximize our squash time in new and creative ways. During Winter break, we ran a 2-day squash clinic where we stayed overnight at SquashBusters Providence. We also held mixed-team practices for our high school and middle school teams. Our high school students coached some of our newer students in middle school, which provided them with a great leadership opportunity. Our most exciting practice this half of the year was when we invited all of our students to our Thanksgiving potluck. We shared an incredible meal with flavors from around the globe. Another opportunity came up this winter, and we started a collaboration with Brooks School’s JV’s high school girls’ team to start up an Empowerment Group. The goal was to connect our high school girls to their JV team and practice together, as well as share some enrichment sessions. We are currently working on creating a mural at their squash courts.
The most exciting part of this year so far is having some of our alums come back to work with us. Leo finished off his internship this winter with us, and Johsuar joined our team part-time to help us in squash and support us with transportation. It’s always great having alums come back and support our students. We had a great turnout in November for the alumni get-together!
Other highlights include an elementary-level student movie and popcorn night, a team-building night that included yoga and games, and an overall overwhelming sense of a positive, strong community.
We are excited for this second half of the year as the staff has already started connecting students to summer opportunities. So far, Jayvian has received a Scholarship for The Calder’s Classic to visit Florence for their classic creative writing program, Orfi has been accepted to Northwestern’s academic summer program, and Lesley has been accepted to the University of Chicago’s academic summer program.
It’s been a busy season so far in Providence, but the highlight has been the SQB Rumble which featured some incredible squash while raising a record $350,000 for the program. Students were fortunate to meet, watch, and play with world-class Squash players such as former world #1. Gregory Gaultier, current world number 7; Tarek Momen, current world 13; and Miguel Rodriguez, who, like many of our students, hails from Columbia, and our own Arthur Gaskin. Beyond the Rumble, students have been engaged in a lot of training and academic enrichment, travel, and community service opportunities
Students have had a variety of enrichment sessions with local organizations, including sessions with Planned Parenthood. They also had career presentations with a music producer, a fitness trainer, and a nurse midwife. The students got to learn about how the individuals got involved with their careers and the different paths that they took to get where they are today. We also had a lot of fun off the court with a make-your-own boba tea night and an informative session on how to calculate students’ GPA.
Our students donated their time and effort to give back this year. Middle school students created and decorated holiday cards for Arbor Hill Assisted Living Center, and high school students created holiday-themed fleece blankets and helped run a clothing drive to donate to Dorcas International Institute, an immigration resources non-profit organization.
Providence students have been very active on the squash courts. They have been competing in the Rhode Island A league, where they have been battling with other community members. It’s been a great chance for the students to connect with the Providence Squash community and really showcase their talent. Some students have also traveled to Detroit, South Carolina, New York City, and Philadelphia to compete in tournaments. They have played in US Squash silver and bronze tournaments, where the students placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. In Philadelphia, they got to compete in the SEA Urban Team Nationals, where over 450 students from the SEA network came together to compete. Our Boys Middle School A team and High School Girls B team finished 5th in their respective draws, and our Boys High School in the C Division finished 1st.
We can’t wait to see where the second half of the year takes us!