The MashUp Bids Farewell to Brooks School

With Some Soggy Paddle Play, Thrilling Squash Competition, and Good Fun

The 2023 MashUp once again brought paddle and squash pros, amateurs, students, and fans together for some exciting competition for a good cause. In its 11th year supporting SquashBusters Lawrence, the MashUp presented by the New Balance Foundation spread over two weekends in December to great success. Despite Mother Nature’s downpours, our intrepid paddle teams did their best to eke out some competition at the Dedham County and Polo Club and The Country Club in Brookline on December 3rd, while squash returned to Brooks School in North Andover, likely for the last time; next year we hope to host in our own center! More than 150 players, guests, sponsors and friends contributed to a remarkable fundraising total of over $415,000.

Our paddle teams did their best to kick-off the race for the 2023 Krapels Cup, battling near constant downpours all morning. Despite only one round of competition, all our teams enjoyed a warm welcome and meaningful reflections on the value of SquashBusters from our students Jomar Garcia and Brenda Hernandez.  Former-CEO Greg Zaff made an appearance sharing with the group, “I would not want to be anywhere else.  Seriously, this means everything to me and I am so glad to share the morning and the mission with all of you, while turning it over to Rosemary, Rodney, Becca and Alé, as it’s now their mission.” Special thanks to our paddle pro veterans and newbies – Scott Staniar, Pat McNally, Bill Power, Leo Power, Thomas Nolan, Mike Miller, Stefan Koruga, and Milo Johnson – who took time out of their schedules to support our cause once more.

The squash competition started bright and early the following Sunday with Lawrence Program Director, Vicky Flamenco, welcoming the teams, captains and pros. Rodney Galvao, Senior Development Officer and John Nimick, Tournament Emcee Extraordinaire, joined our students for some spirited circle-ups and qilos, and the competition was underway. When the last ball rolled into the nick, it was the Merrimack Volley, captained by Bruce Landay and Bill Paine, who emerged on top, a total reversal from their fourth place finish last year.

As the pros hit the the courts,  former World Champion Thierry Lincou, representing the Andover Academics, took on the Essex County Nicks’ Hameed Ahmed, while crowd favorite Arthur Gaskin of the Merrimack Volley battled Lawrence Legion’s Kush Kumar, who is fast becoming an SQB regular. Lincou and Kumar emerged victorious, setting up a rematch from the semi-final round last year. Lincou would not be denied this time around, and beat Kumar, sealing the fate for the Legion who might have tied the Volley with a win. Ultimately, Kumar’s loss did not affect the outcome, as Gaskin beat Ahmed sealing Merrimack’s victory. Gaskin also completed a grand slam, serving as the pro on the winning team in all three SQB events in 2023 – the Rumble, the Derby, and the MashUp. Debate of his GOAT status will surely ensue as, like Serena, not all his wins came in the same competition year.

While the paddle and squash matches were spirited and fun, the real heart and soul of the MashUp is the chance for players, pros, and supporters to get know our incredible students. This year, that opportunity included a moving speech from Brenda Hernandez about how SQB supported her through some difficult times growing up – even when she was “a lot”. Hearing her words, we were all reminded of the power of SquashBusters to be a force for good in our students’ lives and for change in the world. Supporters also had the chance to go toe to toe on court with some former students, as six program alums participated in the tournament. Sarah Emerson concluded the day with stories and a tribute to her husband Ed Krapels, who worked alongside Greg Zaff, Tom Hodgson and others to bring SQB to Lawrence. “He loved SquashBusters, its mission, its students”, she told the crowd, as she presented the cup named in his honor to the new champions, the Merrimack Volley.

Our alumni returned to SQB to play in the MashUp.

Shout out to Brooks School who welcomed SQB for over a decade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MashUp would not be possible without the support of our incredible community and especially our sponsors: Acadian Software, Brown Brothers Harriman, Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation,  Mighty Squirrel Brewing Co., Westfield Capital Management, Winstanley Enterprises, Floyd Advisory, Moore Concrete Cutting, and Bank of New England.

We have more wonderful picture of the day which you can see at the links below.

Paddle – PW: srwf67

Squash – PW: srwf67

The New Balance Foundation SquashBusters Center

The Build Is On!

Construction Update, November 2023

Construction began in the winter of 2022 and the core and shell are complete. The building should be completed and ready for occupancy by fall 2024. The SquashBusters Center will serve as a world class home for the SquashBusters Lawrence program and includes offices and meeting spaces for staff, three classrooms, eight squash courts, two locker rooms, a gym space, and a number of informal meeting areas. Owning and operating this space, in the city where SQB students live, will be transformational for the program

SQB’s planning for programmatic growth are well underway and include increased enrollment, increased dosage, additional school partners, additional summer programming and more and deeper community partnerships. The facility brings SQB much closer to a variety of existing and potential new partners in Lawrence and will increase opportunities for collaboration with these groups, especially those located on nearby Island Street and Everett Mills.

Andrés Burbank-Crump, the Head of Innovation and Partnerships, has been reaching out to mission-aligned organizations to ensure that when the building is not being used by SquashBusters, it can be employed to the benefit of the residents of Lawrence, both through programs run by SquashBusters and in partnership with organizations serving the community. As we consider different ways to utilize the Center, we are mindful of the most pressing needs in Lawrence, as expressed by residents of the city and compiled community needs assessments. Top among these are adult education, immigration services and job opportunities. We are eager to to help meet these needs and more and we anticipate having a positive impact on the community.

The Vision

After more than 8 years of searching for a permanent home in Lawrence, in 2020 SquashBusters reached an agreement with Lawrence Community Works (LCW) to build our own squash and education center. The New Balance Foundation SquashBusters Center is part of the LCW’s Island Parkside mixed-use community project, home to 80 units of low-income housing targeting families, a number of community and green spaces such as a revitalization of Ferrous Park, and a half-mile walking trail along the Merrimack River. 

Programmatic Impact 

SquashBusters came to Lawrence in 2012 and has been operating on borrowed and rented spaces throughout the Merrimack Valley ever since. The SquashBusters Center will serve as a world class home for the SquashBusters Lawrence program. The building will include offices and meeting spaces for staff, three classrooms, eight squash courts, two locker rooms, a gym space, and a number of informal meeting areas. Owning and operating this space, in the city where SQB students live, will be transformational for the program, which has been historically limited by the logistical and transportation and the uncertainty of running the our programs on borrowed spaces outside the city of Lawrence. Key programmatic improvements include: 

  • Enrollment: SQB will have the capacity to increase enrollment of middle and high school students from 80 to 120, and post-secondary students from 46 to 75. 
  • Dosage: Current limited access to courts and fitness space means students typically practice twice a week, with each practice lasting between 2-2.5 hours. With the opening of the SquashBusters Center, students will have programming at least 3 times per week and have the opportunity to drop in practically as often as they want, 5-6 days every week. The Center will be open to students for a minimum of 4 hours each day. 
  • School Partners: SQB’s location in the city brings the program significantly closer to additional schools and in many cases relieves SQB of the need to drive students to programming every day. We anticipate the number of primary partner schools available to work with will increase from 5 to 10, allowing SQB to serve a wider scope of young people in the city. 
  • Community Partnerships: The facility brings SQB much closer to a variety of existing and potential new partners in Lawrence and will increase opportunities for collaboration with these groups, especially those located on nearby Island Street and Everett Mills.
  • Summer Programming: Consistent access to courts and classrooms will allow SquashBusters to offer more robust summer programming. The new Center will allow SQB to offer four weeks of summer programming, twice as much as is currently offered. In addition, we will be able to partner with world class squash programs and other organizations in the city to bring resources into our facility and enrich the experience of the students. 

The SquashBusters Center will be transformational for the Lawrence program. It will allow SQB to offer higher quality programming to more students than have ever been served before. In addition to the elevated quality and quantity of squash opportunities, academic enrichment, and post-secondary support, SQB will partner more meaningfully with other organizations in the city to ensure our students are exposed to the widest variety of experiences possible during their time in the program. 

Community Impact 

The SquashBusters Center will also allow SQB to engage with the local community in new and innovative ways. There will be significant windows of time when the building is not used by the SquashBusters program and can be employed to the benefit of the residents of Lawrence, both through programs run by SquashBusters and in partnership with organizations serving the community. We are eager to maximize the utilization of the SquashBusters Center when it is not being used for our youth development programs to help meet these needs and we anticipate having a positive impact on the community through: 

  • Adult Education: Many adult education classes occur in spaces identical to those in our new facility and are scheduled primarily during the hours when our space will available. Classes offered by these organizations include English Language Learning, Citizenship Exam Preparation and more. 
  • Job Training: Similarly, a number of organizations offer job training to give residents of Lawrence the resources and experience needed to find gainful employment. Such training will also occur in our classrooms outside of SQB programming, and include Nursing Assistant, Early Childhood Care, and Paraprofessional Training. 
  • Community Workspace: During the pandemic we saw how difficult it was for our students and families to find quiet spaces with strong internet access to work or attend school remotely. We anticipate offering one classroom in the new facility to be utilized as a co-working space for our alumni, families and tenants of Island Parkside. There is also the potential for partnership with alternative education programs to provide quiet, functional study spaces for remote students. 
  • Community Squash: SquashBusters plans to leverage our squash courts, gym space, and locker rooms to launch a community squash program. Intended to serve squash players in the Merrimack Valley, we will create a multicultural and multigenerational community in our facility, with a particular focus on familiarizing Lawrence residents with the sport and facilitating access to membership regardless of socioeconomic standing. We will also create space for regular open houses where we invite different groups from throughout the city into our facility to try the sport and learn more about the Center. 
  • School Enrichment: The Center can also be used for school-day enrichment or gym classes for public schools which do not have access to their own recreational spaces, thereby increasing the number of young people benefitting from our facility and accessing meaningful health and wellness programming. 
  • Community Events: The facility has the potential to be a great venue for events for SquashBusters and other organizations from throughout Lawrence. Our own special events will be drastically more accessible to the community and in some cases, as with our annual MashUp, expose folks to world class squash. We will also be able to regularly host our own potlucks, family dinners, and other celebrations. Our hope is that the building will also serve as a site for partner organizations to host their own celebrations and events. 
  • Tenant Access: It is our intent that SquashBusters is a protagonist within the Island Parkside community, proactively ensuring that residents of the affordable housing on the site are utilizing the resources available in the building. These include access to the gym, community squash memberships, usage of potential co-working space, and access to SquashBusters programming for middle and high school aged students. 
  • Employment: SquashBusters will employ members of the Lawrence community in the SquashBusters Center. We will utilize our network within the city to ensure we are providing gainful employment to residents of the city at a living wage and that the folks working at the Center are dedicated to the community we are serving. 

Taken together, all these initiatives will allow SquashBusters to dramatically increase the depth and breadth of our impact in the city of Lawrence, well beyond youth development. Through strategic partnerships and usage of the spaces in the facility, residents of the city will have the ability to be part of a meaningful community and access valuable resources on mornings, nights, and weekends at the New Balance Foundation SquashBusters Center. We believe the SquashBusters Center will be a game-changer for the city of Lawrence, providing programming and opportunities to support citizens at every stage of life. 

 

 

 

That’s a Wrap on the 2023 MFS SquashBusters Derby!

More than a hundred colts and fillies saddled up for the 17th annual running of the MFS SquashBusters Derby, but the winner was a veteran warhorse.  At the end of three days of fierce competition and even fiercer camaraderie, it was founder and retiring CEO Greg Zaff who earned all the roses.  “I gave everything I have to this program for nearly 30 years.  All my past competitive drive from the squash court I channeled into building SquashBusters, basing it all on love and the belief that every kid deserves a chance,” he reflected in a moving speech during Saturday evening’s concluding celebration.

Like the actual Kentucky Derby, for which the annual SquashBusters competition is named, the stars turned out for Zaff’s final Derby as Race Director.  Elite Pros who have supported the Derby from the beginning were on hand, like Chris Walker, Martin Heath, Gary Waite and Jonathon Power. Former World No. 1’s David Palmer, John White and Thierry Lincou said yes to the weekend in a heartbeat, while more recent friends Arthur Gaskin, Clinton Leeuw, Kush Kumar, Hameed Ahmed and Justin Singh filled out the impressive pro field. Dan Sharplin came back to Boston from Chattanooga and brought first-timer and former South African star Rodney Durbach with him.

The record-setting weekend raised $1.56m and featured scores of heroes, but Sandy Tierney once again topped the table on the individual front, raising over $100,000 and earning his fifth Secretariat Award.  The themes of continuity and transition permeated the weekend, as both Tierney and Scott DeSantis, Captain of 2023 Champions Racqueteers, talked about the passion that is ignited by being together for the Derby weekend and the opportunity for the younger generation of supporters to take the reins.

The 2023 Derby featured eight teams of singles and doubles players, but both Racqueteers and Churchill Downey, captained by Jeff Harper and Sam Kaplan, sprinted out of the gate from the opening bell.  Both finalists in 2022, the two teams renewed their rivalry in 2023 and once again wound up head-to-head in the lightening round match to determine the winner.  After all 8 singles players had competed the match was still tied. Victory or defeat rested on the shoulders of the pros. At the wire, Arthur Gaskin nosed out North America’s greatest-ever player Power 3-1 to take the race. The victorious Racqueteers team included Gaskin, DeSantis, Connor Stoltz, Mike Semprucci, Yvan Bodart, Dan Latimore, Charlie Humber, Peter Kelly (a sub for injured Jon Hyett), Chandler Willet, Amrit Kanwal, and Martin Heath.

Major corporate support for the 2023 Derby came once again from Title Sponsor MFS Investments, Diamond Sponsors Foxfield, Intercontinental Real Estate , Intex , Westfield Capital Management, Gold Sponsors Archer Venture Capital, Berkshire Partners, Brown Brothers Harriman, Civic Financial, Loomis, Sayles & Co., William O’Neil + Co., and many others. Please visit our Derby Website for a full list.

The afternoon wrapped up with remarks from SQB alum, Vanel Joseph. He spoke about how he was originally attracted to SQB because he wanted to see “where his best friend was going every day after school.” But the program grew into a second home for him and helped him secure a place at Northeastern University where he now is studying health sciences with the goal of becoming an oral surgeon.

 

The celebration continued at the home of Board Member and Salubrious co-captains Simone and Jack Winston. We are grateful to them for opening their home for a second straight year. SquashBusters senior Tracy Nguyen spoke movingly about how SQB had also become a second home for her, how the program sustained her through COVID and helped her to create life-long friends. The evening concluded with Zaff’s reflections on 27 years leading SQB and acknowledged all the staff who have made this incredible program possible, also tipping his hat to his longtime friend and co-race director John Nimick. The evening’s highlights also included Zaff’s introduction by the three SquashBusters Program Directors, Vicky Flamenco, Mikhail Darlington, and Rodney Galvao, who are all alumni of the program. Each shared a personal anecdote about their days with Greg when they were students and he was their coach, reminding everyone of the complete circle their careers represent, and the power of squash, education, and love to change the world.

 

And be sure to click below to see more pictures of the weekend’s festivities.

Thursday Doubles – pw: ccfa45
https://mhumphries.smugmug.com/CLIENTS-2/542023-SQB-Derby-Day-One/

Friday Doubles– pw: ccfa45
https://mhumphries.smugmug.com/CLIENTS-2/552023-SQB-Doubles-Day-2/

Saturday Singles– pw: ccfa45
https://mhumphries.smugmug.com/CLIENTS-2/562023-SQB-Singles-Derby/i-34LTMtQ

Junior Stakes, Saturday Singles, Saturday Celebration – no pw required
https://lightroom.adobe.com/shares/b51ebbb162544e6dbc0c4353a24bec23

 

SQB Providence Rocks Another Rumble – Raises over $275,000!

   

Providence was definitely ready to rumble again on January 25th when more than 150 supporters filled SquashBusters Providence at Moses Brown’s Gorgi Center for the second annual SquashBusters Rumble, presented by Bank of America. They were treated to an exciting day of amateur and professional squash that featured the greatest collection of international squash stars ever gathered in Rhode Island. The event was held to raise critical funds for SQB Providence, which is now serving almost 60 Providence youth, and garnered over $277,000, thanks in part to corporate sponsors Parsons KelloggBrown Brothers HarrimanWestfield Capital Management, and Hall Capital Management Company.

Squash Legends Ramy Ashour, Nick Matthew and Peter Nicol, who boast seven individual World Championship titles between them, and Irish No. 1 Arthur Gaskin thrilled the Rumble players and guests with outstanding squash and highly entertaining banter throughout the day.  Each star led one of four teams comprised of 10 singles and 3 doubles players that battled all afternoon to amass “Wave” points and attempt to win the coveted Rumble trophy.

    

Reprising his World Wrestling Entertainment opening, host John Nimick again donned a shoe-length black leather coat and slick sunglasses to belt out a thirty second “Are you ready to Rumble?” before referencing the venue as Zaffer’s Palace, in a tribute to SquashBusters founder Greg Zaff and his vision to bring SquashBusters to Providence.  Nimick carried on to introduce the pros by their popular nicknames -King Arthur Gaskin playing for the Kilts, Nick “The Wolf” Matthew playing for the Rhode Warriors, Ramy “The Artist” Ashour playing for the Sharks, and Bonny Prince Peter Nicol playing for Off the Rails.

While Peter Gemma and Paul Salem’s Rhode Warriors and new Captain Stefano Crema and Julie Andrews’ Off The Rails battled valiantly, it was Tom Kellogg and Gaskin’s Kilts and Habib Gorgi and Bill Hatfield’s Sharks that went the distance as they entered the Pro round robin separated by a single point.  In the end, first-time SquashBusters supporter Ramy Ashour carried the Sharks to the 2020 title by winning his last two games over Arthur Gaskin and Nick Matthew, edging the Kilts in the end one point.

Guest were treated to delicious food and drink by Providence’s own Plant City. But the individual who stole the show was SquashBusters seventh-grader, Isabel Perez Comacho, who overcame some jitters to speak movingly to the crowd about her journey to find confidence, explore new horizons and play better squash. Program Director and SquashBusters alumnus Rodney Galvao introduced Isabel with glowing and humorous insights and also reminded the crowd of the profound impact SQB has had on his life.

       

Founder Greg Zaff concluded the 2020 Rumble by thanking and recognizing Habib Gorgi, Bill Hatfield and their team of Sharks as the top fundraisers of 2020, awarding them the Tidal Wave trophy to match their championship trophies. He then brought the day to a fitting close by thanking all participants – Rumble players, volunteers and donors – for their generosity and passion to see a better future for every SquashBusters student.

To see more pictures of the day, click here.

A Busy Fall at SQB Lawrence

SQB Class of 2026 Is Almost Here

The recruitment process started in early September, when SquashBusters staff introduced themselves and the game of squash to over 200 students at the Arlington and Wetherbee Middle Schools during gym class. Since then, the group has been narrowed to 21 committed and enthusiastic students. They have all been attending practices at Brooks School twice a week with the goal of becoming full time members of the SQB team. We’re looking forward to final decisions being announced just before winter break at our 6th grade potluck event to welcome our newest members to the team!

In addition to the typical middle school recruitment process, twelve high school students from Notre Dame Cristo Rey have been working hard on court and in the classroom in a bid to join the program. These additional students have helped to further reinforce growing ties between SquashBusters and Notre Dame, one of our strongest partner schools. We’re thrilled to be able to welcome more students on the high school team and eager to integrate their strengths into our already thriving program!


SQB in the Community

SquashBusters Lawrence has been all around the city this fall, participating in five different community service projects during the first few months of programming. Middle-schoolers took advantage of the nice weather at the beginning of the year to help pick vegetables at Costello Park, an urban farm that provides fresh produce to local soup kitchens and food pantries. Students remarked that they enjoyed “getting their hands dirty” and were thrilled to be able to take some of the vegetables home with them.

Another project of note was the Spicket River Clean Up – a full program effort in which 60 students volunteered to help keep the local waterway clean. Not only was this an opportunity to help make an impact in our own community, but also a chance to get nearly the full team together to kick off another great year at SQB. The day was a resounding success and many left excited to find more opportunities to keep the city looking beautiful!


Squash Season Begins

Two regional Squash and Education Alliance (SEA) tournaments served as highlights for our fall squash calendar. The SEA Northeast Regionals, hosted at Yale University, was a tremendous opportunity for players to compete against some of the very best players in New England. The high school boys and girls teams both competed in the A draw. Though neither team walked away from the weekend with a victory, they were thrilled to be part of the tournament. Several players did secure a individual victories. The middle school teams enjoyed a little more success, with the middle school boys being denied first place in their division only by their teammates from Providence.

The second tournament, hosted by Capitol Squash at Trinity College, was an opportunity for many of our youngest players to take part in their first big tournament. An intrepid crew of 10 seventh graders traveled to Connecticut to compete in the Middle School Northeast Team Regional tournament. The students again competed hard and were thrilled to be able to enjoy a day with teammates from the other two SquashBusters sites and to be able make new friends from other Urban Squash programs from across the region. These two tournaments undoubtedly gave our students the experience and confidence to find success in the upcoming months to come!

A Full Program Year at SQB Providence!

A Year of Firsts!

November 2018 – Two of our very own students Natalia O’tero and Julio Barahona won their very first US Squash Tournament at Nobles Bronze.

December 2018 – We welcomed our new sixth grade class from DelSesto Middle School.  Twenty-two students were recruited based on their work ethic, character and passion for the program.

January 2019 – We kicked off the new year with a trip to New York City to attend the professional squash event, the Tournament of Champions.  One of the biggest tournaments on the professional squash tour, students were exposed to amazing squash and were able to meet top players from around the world, including Diego Elias, Camille Serme and Karim Abdel Gawad.

March 2019 – Sixteen students traveled to Yale University to compete in our very first Squash and Education Alliance (SEA) Urban Team Nationals Tournament.

April 2019 – SQB Providence partnered with Providence Parks and Recreation for a community service project with Madewell jeans.  Students collected used jeans, which were then donated to Madewell and turned in insulation for houses of people in need.

June 2019 – Williams College hosted the SEA Urban Individual Nationals. Sixteen SQB Providence students competed against players from all over the country and the world, including New York City, California, and even Colombia.

With our first full program year complete, we are thankful for the students and families who have made a commitment to our program, our partners at DelSesto Middle School, Moses Brown and the Nicol Squash Club, and our supporters in the greater Providence community. We are looking forward to squash-filled summer!

Community Partnerships: Edesia Nutrition

Soon after opening the doors at SquashBusters Providence, we began to explore Rhode Island-based non-profits to partner with for community service projects.  We were interested in finding an organization that would align with our mission and vision around giving back to our community, and a collaborative partner that we could both learn from and grow alongside.  Luckily we didn’t have to look very far to find Edesia, an incredible company founded in 2010 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Navyn Salem. Navyn also happens to be the wife of SQB leadership council member, Paul Salem, so she had a deep understanding of SQB’s mission and goals.  Navyn created Edesia after seeing a segment about a “miracle cure” for malnutrition on 60-Minutes.  Edesia’s mission is to help treat and prevent malnutrition in the world’s most vulnerable populations through the delivery of ready-to-use foods (RUFs), delivered from their factory in Rhode Island into the hands of malnourished children all over the world.

For the past two summers, SquashBusters has taken approximately 40 students to the Edesia Nutrition factory in North Kingston, RI for a tour and information session.  During our visits, students have had the opportunity to try the signature Plumpy’Nut product, to witness the factory’s state-of-the-art robot, Lucy, in action, and to hear testimonies from some employees who are refugees hailing from countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.

This December , SquashBusters students collaborated with the Moses Brown high school squash team to package over 4,000 RUF packets.  Unlike most of their products which are exported out of the U.S. to developing nations, the packets our students created contained a new formula used to prevent malnutrition in health clinics right here in Rhode Island, thus allowing our students to directly give back to the local community.

As a result of our partnership with Edesia, we have been able to provide our students with meaningful, impactful service projects and have developed our students into informed citizens about the world-wide issue of malnutrition.  We are incredibly grateful for the partnership between SquashBusters Providence and Edesia, and are excited to expand our collaborative work in the years to come!

Our First-Ever SquashBusters Providence Rumble was a Smashing Success!

SquashBusters Providence hosted its very first fundraiser, the Bank of America SquashBusters Rumble, in January. Four teams competed against each other through a full day of squash to a packed house of over 200 spectators.  They were able to learn about the SquashBusters program, watch some amazing squash, and hear from SQB seventh grader, Kealie Burt.  This event welcomed top current and former pros such as Nour El Tayeb, Arthur Gaskin, Nick Matthew, and Todd Harrity. We appreciate everyone who was involved and came out to support us and help us raise more than $270,000.  These funds are critical to SQB Providence operations and help us provide opportunities such as trips and tournaments to our students.

Summer at SQB Providence

The school-year may be done, but SquashBusters continues to be in full swing for the summer. Many students are attending camps or traveling around New England and around the country.

  • SQB Summer Road Trip – Eleven middle school students will travel with staff to Washington DC, exploring New York City , New Jersey, Philadelphia along the way!
  • SQB Summer Slam- SQB Providence students will be joined in Providence by their peers from SQB Lawrence for a two week squash camp.
  • Squash Camps – Two students will be attending squash camp lead by former pro and Director of Infinitum Squash, Nick Taylor at Deerfield Academy. Two other students will travel to California for a week for squash training, lead by former pro Mark Talbott, one of the top Hardball Squash Players at Stanford University. Both opportunities will allow our students to improve their squash skills while exposing them to new people and places.
  • A group of boys will have the opportunity to Westend House for summer camp.

Want more SQB news?

Read the 2019 year-end Boston newsletter here.

Read the 2019 Lawrence newsletter here.

 

 

A Year of Milestones for SquashBusters Lawrence

Our Dream Comes True – A Home for SquashBusters Lawrence

Sometime next spring, SquashBusters Lawrence will break ground on its new home – our own facility being built on the campus of Merrimack College. This partnership with Merrimack mirrors the relationships we have in Boston with Northeastern and in Providence with Moses Brown School. SquashBusters will raise the construction capital in return for a rent-free, maintenance-free home for the next 100 years. To say this is a total game-changer for our program and for the City of Lawrence is an understatement. The facility will stand as a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations of Lawrence students. It will unite the broader community, inspire civic engagement, and profoundly contribute to Merrimack College and the entire Merrimack Valley.

Merrimack College President Chris Hopey and Executive Vice President Jeff Doggett quickly embraced the chance to partner with SquashBusters. Having both formerly worked in senior positions at Northeastern, they have seen first-hand the impact our partnership has had in Boston. Our first ‘get-to-know’ you meeting between Merrimack and SquashBusters was memorable. Not five minutes into the conversation, President Hopey jumped in, “No need for the big sales pitch. I’ve seen SquashBusters do amazing things in Boston. We’re in! What’s the next step?”

The next step was to design the facility – an important job bestowed upon the very talented STACK + Co. Schematic design is nearly finished. SquashBusters Lawrence’s 17,000 square-foot home will have eight squash courts, 3 classrooms, a college and career center, a family resource room, a fitness center, private space for one-on-one counseling, changing rooms, and offices. SquashBusters will also engage a world-class squash professional to operate a full-scale squash club, complete with memberships, lessons and summer camps. In return for this opportunity, the pro will contribute a percentage of his earnings to SquashBusters and will team up with our squash staff to help our students become great players.

Crazy, ambitious projects like this often happen because of one phenomenally generous contributor. Here, that honor goes to the New Balance Foundation, which has pledged to make the leadership gift. Such a gift is the strongest testament to the Foundation’s belief in the good work of SquashBusters and its deep commitment to improving the lives of Lawrence young people. SquashBusters is beyond grateful to the New Balance Foundation for this transformative investment and we look forward to celebrating the grand opening of the New Balance Foundation SquashBusters Center at Merrimack College in the spring of 2021.

A Year of Highlights on Court…

The 2018-2019 season was the most active in the history of the Lawrence program, with students participating in 39 competitions spanning New England and beyond. From overnight urban squash tournaments to friendly matches against our teammates in Boston and Providence, the year was packed with highlights on court.

Urban Squash Team Nationals, this year hosted by Yale University and Choate Rosemary Hall, yielded a slew of exciting results for the SquashBusters teams. There were not one, but two National Championship winning teams on the girls side: Sarai, Tatiana, and June were all members of the SQB team that finished first in the Girls High School B Division, while Winipher became the first ever SquashBusters Lawrence A-draw national champion. Not to be outdone, Anthony G. helped steer his team to a High School Boys B-draw first place finish from the number 1 position on his team’s ladder.

This was also the first year SquashBusters Lawrence hosted our very own alumni match. A combination of current middle and high school students, volunteers, teachers, and parents gathered at Brooks School to watch the most recent class of SquashBusters graduates compete in one final match. Sporting shirts from the colleges they will be attending this coming fall, the graduated seniors competed against a combination of staff and alumni in a series of friendly matches to wrap up their squash careers. After an afternoon of great squash on court, the group gathered outside for a buffet dinner and connected over some of their favorite SQB memories.

One of the most exciting moments of the year arrived at Urban Individual Nationals – the final competition of the year. Eighth-grader Grismerly not only finished the weekend as the GU17 B-draw consolation runner up, defeating several high school-aged opponents along the way, but she also won the Squash and Education Alliance Future Star Award. Grismerly is the first student from Lawrence to ever win the award, which recognizes one middle school student from among all SEA organizations for strong character and commitment to their program.

SquashBusters will be sending many students to various overnight squash opportunities throughout the summer, hopefully setting us up for another year of success on court!

…and in the Classroom for SQB Lawrence

 

For the second year in a row, all SQB Lawrence seniors have post-secondary plans.  Thanks to a great deal of hard work, perseverance and support from Mike Shannon, Director of Post-Secondary Services and individual college mentors, here is what our seniors will be doing next year –

PHOENIX ALMONTE
Northern Essex Community College
JULISSA BEJAR
Merrimack College
DAISY DELEON
Military (Spring Enrollment at Northern Essex Community College)
LYNETTE GUERRERO
UMass – Lowell
TATIANA HERNANDEZ
UMass – Lowell
CHRISTIAN LAWRENCE
Northeastern University
CHANTAL PEREZ-PENA
Year Up
CHARLENNY PEREZ-PENA
UMass – Lowell
SAMANTHA RICH
Merrimack College
MELBIN ROJAS
Northern Essex Community College
WINIPHER ROMERO
UMass – Lowell
SOLANGIE TAVAREZ
UMass – Lowell

Lawrence Gets Out and Gives Back!

Once again, SquashBusters participated in dozens of community service trips throughout the year, seeking to learn more about local organizations and support their efforts within Greater Lawrence. Highlights included:

Though Lawrence suffered from devastating gas explosions at the beginning of the school year, the community responded admirably by coming together in the city’s time of need. Students and staff from SquashBusters gathered at Arlington Middle School to offer support to the families without homes or power and lend a helping hand during the crisis. Though many of our own families spent months without power and out of their homes, the community proved more resilient than ever.

We spent a day collecting and organizing donations at Debbie’s Treasure Chest, an organization dedicated to providing clothing, books, toiletries, school supplies and other necessities to at-risk families in the area.

The high school team spent several hours volunteering at Lazarus House, a shelter in Lawrence offering nourishment, comfort, and stability to those in need. Students helped organize donations and clean the building.

Both middle and high school students spent several days working at Costello Urban Farm, part of the Costello Community Garden organized by Groundwork Lawrence. The space is dedicated to leading local environmental and healthy community initiatives, and students helped plant all manner of fruits and vegetables throughout the spring.

Students made several trips throughout the year to Nevin’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. We spent the afternoons playing games, setting up meals, telling stories and bonding with senior members of the Merrimack Valley.

Several of our students have continued their work into the summer, working with Groundwork Lawrence throughout July and August. As we head into next year, we continue to search for ways in which to make a meaningful impact through various local organizations in the Merrimack Valley.

Want more SQB News?

Read the 2019 Boston year-end newsletter.

Read the 2019 Providence year-end newsletter.

Another Successful Year for SQB Boston

Seniors Are College Bound!

For the fifth time in as many years SquashBusters is proud to announce that all of the graduating senior class will be enrolling in college. We are extremely proud of all the hard work they have done and are excited to see them take this next step.

The list of schools below reflects the drive and determination that this special group of students has brought to the classroom and to the squash courts over their years in the program. From the time they entered in seventh grade these students were exposed to college campuses through college visits and tournaments. Through weekly academic sessions and various workshops they were provided with critical thinking tools that will help them tackle any problem that may arise on their academic journey. And SquashBusters’ focus on community service and health has prepared them to be highly engaged members of their community and beyond.

As seniors, students were able to capitalize on all that hard work and make higher education a reality. With the help of Mikhail Darlington, Manager or Post-Secondary Access and Success, and Sally Rowland, Program Associate, and the support of their college mentors, seniors persevered through the extensive college application process with great success. They were tasked with writing a compelling personal statement, formulating balanced and challenging lists of schools, and filling out countless hours of application and verification forms. But the results were worth the hard work – in addition to the acceptances, an average of 85% of the cost of attendance is covered by grants of scholarships.

“This class was a very special class. Their willingness to go the extra mile when they had so much going on in their academic and personal lives speaks volumes” said Mikhail. “No matter what challenge arose, they were always ready to fight through it. And I think that will reflect the amazing people they will become”.

We are proud to say that next year the class of 2019 will be attending the following schools:

KYLE ADAR
Bunker Hill Community College
SNIDER AMAZAN
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
JOSIAH BENNETT
Wesleyan University
NAA-JUAH BENTON
Bridgewater State University
ANGELA CAO
Connecticut College
YULIELIAN CEPEDA RODRIGUEZ
UMass-Boston
DILON DAWKINS
UMass-Boston
DENITRA DOUGLAS-ROBERTSON
Boston University
KEISA FERREIRA
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
GERARDO GARCIA
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
NY HO
Northeastern University
VANEL JOSEPH
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
MEI RUAN JUAN
UMass – Amherst
RUSSEL SANCHEZ
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
KAYMARI TEJEDA
UMass – Boston
ARIANY TERRERO
UMass-Boston
SPENCER THOMAS
Becker College
BEVERLY VO
Tufts University
CYPRESS WILSON
Wentworth Institute of Technology
KAETU WLEH
Amherst College

Once they graduate, however, their involvement with SquashBusters does not end. SQB recognizes that a successful graduate is one that is able enter society with all the skills necessary to thrive. Corey Schafer, Director of College and Alumni Success, remains in regular contact with each college-enrolled alum. She assists them in navigating the life-altering transition to college and helps them access resources they need to complete their journey. This year we have eleven graduates who have completed that journey and are off to start a new one as they enter their careers.

Below are the SQB alumni who graduated from college this year:

EMANUEL ANDRADE
Boston University
NELSMARIE MATOS ARROYO
Boston College
HELAM AYANO
Northeastern University
ARMANDO BARRAGAN
Norwich University
LOSANGELA BATISTA
St. Lawrence University
MAKAYLA BECKFORD
Simmons College
AARON COSS
Bentley University
KEVEN DEPINA
Bates College
ILMA GOLEMI
Suffolk University
ABEL HAILU
Northeastern University
MICHAEL HOGARTY
Emmanuel College
QUERBY JANVIER
Simmons College
JUAN LOPERA
Clark University
CRISTIAN LOPEZ
UMass – Amherst
ALEJANDRA MADRID
Mass Bay Community College
ANTENEH MEKONNEN
Roger Williams University
XHORXHIA PAPA
Northeastern University
DEANNA PETTWAY
Northeastern University
ZUSEX ROMERO
UMass – Boston
BENNY SANQUINTIN
UMass – Boston
HENRY SANTANA
Lasell College
KILSY SOTO
Bunker Hill Community College
JASMINE ZHOU
Providence College

Continuing their commitment to education that they developed early on at SquashBusters, the following alumni will enroll in graduate school this fall:

QUERBY JANVIER
Simmons College, Master of Nursing
JUAN LOPERA
Clark University, Master of Business Administration
XHORXHIA PAPA
MA College of Pharmacy, Doctor of Pharmacy
VANIA PEREIRA
Brown University, Masters of American Studies
ZOE RUSSELL
Harvard University, School of Law

We are so proud of all our graduates and can’t wait to hear about the next stage of their journeys.

A Year of Great Squash!

The SquashBusters Boston squash program continued to improve and experience success during the 2018-2019 program year.  In addition to internal squash practices and challenge matches, SQB Boston students participated in 64 external competitions – 42 matches and 22 tournaments.  These opportunities brought students to new cities such as New York and Washington DC, and to colleges and universities such as Williams, Amherst, Wesleyan, and Yale.  High school students received an average of 8 competitive opportunities during the program year, and produced impressive results.

In their second year representing Boston Public Schools, SQB Boston’s varsity teams experienced banner seasons.  The girls and boys went 14-3 and 16-2 respectively, records which included wins over schools such as Milton Academy, Episcopal High School, Shipley School, Pomfret School, and Loomis Chaffee School.  At the High School National Championships in Hartford, CT, the boys took home top-honors in Division 4 while the girls moved up a division and finished fifth in Division 3.  Both results were marked improvements over the previous year.

A month later, teams traveled to Yale University with 90 students for Urban Team Nationals.  Strong results continued, as SquashBusters’ teams won 3 separate divisions, including the A-Division for high school girls.

Helping fuel the improvement in skill-level were the Elite Training Squad and Squash Mentors Program.  The Elite Training Squad is a group of 20 SQB Boston students who participate weekly in an intense and focused practice early on Saturday mornings, run by volunteers Geoff and Bryan Keating.  Additionally, 18 students participated in the squash mentors program, which paired our most driven players with volunteers from the Boston area who provided them with one-on-one coaching and mentoring.  A huge thank you to Geoff, Bryan, and all of our squash mentors for making these programs possible!

Lastly, the SQB-Boston squash program is proud to be sending four graduates to play varsity college squash next season.  We wish Angela (Connecticut College), Beverly (Tufts University), Josiah (Wesleyan University), and Kaetu (Amherst College) all the best in the next phase of their squash careers!

New Balance & SQB: Home & Away

What is is like work at one the world’s premiere athletic apparel manufacturers? SQB Boston students got a chance to find out.

New Balance is an incredible partner to SQB in ways that go far beyond financial support. This past spring, SquashBusters had the opportunity to continue to deepen that partnership through the New Balance & SQB: Home & Away Experience. This pilot initiative took place on two different days. First, 20 SQB Boston Seniors went to New Balance HQ for career exploration and a site visit (Away). A month later, a team of New Balance associates came to SQB Boston (Home) and participated in an “SQB afternoon” led entirely by the seniors.

The SQB@New Balance Career Exploration was an opportunity for our students to gain exposure to diverse career paths and professional development skills and to network with New Balance associates.  The visit involved a tour of HQ, two panel discussions, Q&A, and concluded with lunch. The first group of panelists focused on interview prep and how to market yourself professionally, while the second group explored different departments and positions offered at New Balance. The panelists were comprised of a diverse team of New Balance associates who were able to talk to the students about their relevant departments, roles, and their own professional development stories.

New Balance@SQB took place a few weeks later, when a team of New Balance associates visited SquashBusters during programming hours. The visit was led entirely by Boston seniors, as a way for the New Balance staff to get a better understanding of the program from the student perspective. The visit included a student-led tour of the facility, a squash exhibition match between former world #1 squash player, Thierry Lincou, and SQB Squash Coach, Guy Davidson, and activities both on and off court that New Balance associates and SquashBusters seniors competed in together.

We look forward to continuing to deepen our partnership in the coming program year and beyond.

Want more SQB news?

Read the 2019 Lawrence year-end newsletter.

Read the 2019 Providence year-end newsletter.

Congratulations to Our 2019 Marathon Team!

What a day! New England threw almost every type of weather imaginable at our indomitable team, but that did not stop any of them from crossing the finish line. In addition to logging 26.2 miles, our team of 16 raised over $112,000 for SquashBusters, with more still coming in.

So many people made the day possible but special thanks to our runners Alex, Becky, Ben, Bob, Casey, Dan, Emily G., Emily I., Jesse, Joe, Karen, Keith, Lauren, Samantha, Whitney and Zoe for their commitment and dedication; the Boston Athletic Association for giving us the opportunity to participate; and the University Club for providing warm showers and cold beers for everyone at the end of the day.

You can still make a donation by clicking HERE.

Winter Doesn’t Slow Down SQB

SquashBusters 2019 MFS Derby

 

Join us at the University Club on May 3rd and SquashBusters on May 4th
to watch some great squash for a great cause.
To learn more or support the event, click HERE.

A Historic Squash Season for SQB Boston

While our teams exhibited strong play throughout the season, it was clear both the boys and girls teams saved their best performances for the biggest competitions in high school and urban squash.

High School Team Championships – In early February SquashBusters traveled to Hartford, CT to compete in the High School Squash Team Championships as the representatives of Boston Public Schools.  There were 8 separate boys’ divisions and 6 separate girls’ divisions comprised of more than 200 teams from across the country, making it the world’s largest squash tournament.  Our strong regular seasons (girls 7-2, boys 8-1) earned our girls team a place in Division 3, and our boys team a high seed in Division 4.

Our girls began the weekend with a convincing 6-1 victory over Blair Academy (NJ). Despite falling 4-3 to two seed Westminster School (CT) the next morning in a tightly contested battle, the team recovered quickly and managed to take a 5-2 decision over Episcopal HS (PA) that evening, putting them in the 5th place match against traditional powerhouse Shipley School (PA).  Our girls eked out an intense 4-3 victory over Shipley, placing them 5th in Division 3 and 37th in the country!

Our boys team started the weekend similarly to the girls – with an impressive 6-1 victory over New Haven Public Schools (CT) on Friday.  A second round matchup with Tower Hill School (DE) proved far more testing.  Tied 3-3, Josiah Bennett pulled out the deciding fourth victory to send the team into the semifinals against Westminster School (GA) on Saturday evening.  Our boys once again edged out a close match, taking a 5-2 decision and securing a spot in the finals against Loomis Chaffee School (CT).  The finals had a different feel, as our boys clinched the victory early, and cruised to a 6-1 victory and a Division 4 championship!

Urban Team Nationals –  Next up, the 16th edition of Urban Team Nationals at Yale University and Choate Rosemary Hall, hosted by the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA). Sixteen SEA member programs and 2 international affiliates comprised 14 separate elementary school, middle school, and high school draws.  SquashBusters sent 18 teams composed of 90 Boston, Lawrence, and Providence students to New Haven for 3 intense and fun-filled days of squash.

Entering the tournament, a SquashBusters team had not won an A-division title at Urban Team Nationals since 2016.  However, both the top Boys and Girls high school teams had hopes of changing that, as the girls team received the top seed and the boys were seeded third in the A-draw.

The boys took a decisive 4-1 decision in the first round against SquashDrive (Oakland, CA) before falling in a 3-2 thriller in the semifinal to eventual champion StreetSquash.  The boys rebounded to take 3rd place with a 3-2 victory over SquashSmarts (Philadelphia, PA) the next day.

The top girls team marched to the finals with a 5-0 first-round win and a 4-1 semifinal victory over CitySquash (NY).  This set them up to play StreetSquash in the finals, and the girls pulled through with a 3-2 victory to clinch SQB’s first A-division title since 2016!

SquashBusters’ other high school teams also experienced significant success.  The high school Girls II team won the A-division consolation, and the Girls III team took the B-division title.  The high school Boys II team won the B-division, and the Boys IV team took third in the C-division.

For the majority of students on SquashBusters’ middle school teams, this past weekend marked their first national tournament.  Still, they competed well against their often more-experienced counterparts.  The top boys and girls teams finished seventh in the Middle School A-division, while the Boys III and Girls III teams both finished third in the Middle School C-division.

Beyond success on the court, all the teams represented SquashBusters incredibly well.  Many other teams and spectators commented on our players’ strong sportsmanship and attitude.  And Joelangie Arias Soto and Marangela James took home the top prizes in the middle school and high school divisions of SEA’s annual academic contest. It has been a season to remember, and one of which our program is exceedingly proud.


SquashBusters Lawrence Gets a Permanent Home

A Schematic Rendering by Stack + Co. of the
New SquashBusters Lawrence at Merrimack College

SquashBusters has entered into a formal partnership with Merrimack College to build a rent/maintenance-free facility on the school’s campus. The 16,000 square foot facility will contain eight squash courts, three classrooms, a family resource and college counseling center, locker rooms and staff offices, and cost approximately $4.75 million. New Balance has committed a $2.5 million lead investment to name the facility.

The benefits to partnering with Merrimack College are numerous. Merrimack has agreed to donate the land free of charge, operate the facility at its expense, and assist SquashBusters with transportation. Additionally, Merrimack students will volunteer daily, SquashBusters staff may take graduate courses at discounted rates, and our qualified students will stand an excellent chance of gaining admission and financial assistance. Read Merrimack’s announcement to their community here.

SquashBusters enjoys similar partnerships with Northeastern in Boston and Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I. Both have enabled the program to serve more students, increase program dosage, host junior tournaments, and build a deeper connection to the community. We look forward to the programmatic, educational, and financial benefits of this partnership for years to come.


SquashBusters Runs the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon Team
Gets Ready for a Training Run with the SQB Team

When the starting gun goes off for the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15, SquashBusters will have a 16-person team of athletes joining the 30,000+ runners on their trek from Hopkinton to Boston – a 26.2 mile journey that began many months and many miles ago.  Eight men and eight women have committed to support SquashBusters through a months-long challenge of grueling physical preparation and tireless fundraising to reach their pledged goals of collectively raising over $100,000.

The 16 teammates primarily hail from Massachusetts, but include runners from as far away as Tennessee, Alabama and California.  They range in age from 21 to 57 and include marathon rookies and veterans alike.  All of them feel a passion for or connection to the SquashBusters mission, and all of them have dedicated themselves to putting in hundreds of miles and hours as they work tirelessly towards their goals.  To meet our athletes or support their efforts, check out the SQB Marathon Team website on Crowd Rise. Be on the lookout for our for blue and white SquashBusters singlets and cheer them on along the course!

SquashBusters is deeply grateful not only to these 16 runners, but also to the Boston Athletic Association for this incredible opportunity to raise significant funds that will support our programs in providing life-changing opportunities to our students.  Since the Boston Marathon Charity Program officially launched in 1989, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for nonprofits across Massachusetts and SquashBusters is thrilled to be part of this program in 2019.


The Leaders of Tomorrow

The 2017-2018 SquashBusters
Student Ambassadors

The SquashBusters Student Ambassador Program is a leadership initiative that is at the core of the SquashBusters mission. Composed of 14 high school students, the group meets bi-weekly to discuss the status of the program through their own eyes, plan internal and external events, and provide feedback and suggestions to enhance their experience.

Through their involvement with the Ambassador Program, students learn and practice valuable leadership skills. For instance, the Ambassadors recently led a two-hour event for more than 30 middle school students from three separate Boys and Girls Clubs in Boston.  The SquashBusters students created goals to define what a successful event would look like, planned the run-of-show, divided roles, and practiced and rehearsed over multiple sessions and over multiple days on top of their core commitment to the program. SquashBusters staff were present to supervise, but the Ambassadors led the event flawlessly, greeting the visitors as they arrived, teaching squash, leading relay races, charades and other events, and showing the Boys and Girls Club students what it takes to be a member of a SquashBusters team.

The Ambassadors also play a crucial roles in the SQB program-year kick-off event, the Derby, and seasonal award ceremonies, where they select and celebrate a teammate who exemplifies the I-CARE values that all SquashBusters students strive to live by: Integrity, Concern for others, Appreciation, Respect and Effort.

Most importantly, the Ambassadors are the “culture-keepers” of the SquashBusters Program and embody what makes our community special – people who care deeply about each other and want to create incredible experiences for their teammates.