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 –

Northern Essex Community College
Merrimack College
Military (Spring Enrollment at Northern Essex Community College)
UMass – Lowell
UMass – Lowell
Northeastern University
Year Up
UMass – Lowell
Merrimack College
Northern Essex Community College
UMass – Lowell
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:

Bunker Hill Community College
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
Wesleyan University
Bridgewater State University
Connecticut College
Boston University
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
Northeastern University
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
UMass – Amherst
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
UMass – Boston
Becker College
Tufts University
Wentworth Institute of Technology
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:

Boston University
Boston College
Northeastern University
Norwich University
St. Lawrence University
Simmons College
Bentley University
Bates College
Suffolk University
Northeastern University
Emmanuel College
Simmons College
Clark University
UMass – Amherst
Mass Bay Community College
Roger Williams University
Northeastern University
Northeastern University
UMass – Boston
UMass – Boston
Lasell College
Bunker Hill Community College
Providence College

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

Simmons College, Master of Nursing
Clark University, Master of Business Administration
MA College of Pharmacy, Doctor of Pharmacy
Brown University, Masters of American Studies
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.

Breakfast With Champions


Tuesday, October 30 marked SquashBusters’ third annual Breakfast with Champions – a day we broke down walls and brought together people from different circumstances, all in the name of improving the SQB program and strengthening our community. SquashBusters Board members and Advisory Council members, alumni and staff, parents and supporters from Boston, Lawrence and Providence came together for a morning of conversation and inspiration as we tackled some of the most pressing issues faced by our students and program graduates: addressing inequities in public K-12 education, identifying obstacles and ensuring success in college, and supporting students on alternative post-secondary paths.

With SquashBusters Board members Meg Campbell and Juma Crawford leading the way, guests shared personal experiences and reflected on how those experiences have driven their own life outcomes. Then they dug into what SQB is doing well and what we could do better to support our students as they reach for success.  Across topics, one common theme emerged: networks.  Groups shared thoughts on the role SQB plays in broadening our students’ networks and providing access to people, organizations and resources to which they may not otherwise have access.

The morning was capped off with remarks from Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell, a true champion for youth development and a fighter for justice, fairness and equality.  Born and raised in Boston with a personal story of strength and resilience through tragic circumstances, Councilor Campbell has dedicated her work – both before and since holding public office – to helping Boston’s families and communities that need it most.  She challenged everyone in the room to not only think about what SquashBusters can do better, but what each of us as individuals can do better. She urged everyone to carry that question with us every day.  Guests left the Breakfast with Champions inspired, motivated and driven to do more, to do better.  This is what makes all of you our Champions.

SquashBusters is grateful to have had so many great minds join us last week, and we are humbled by your grit and determination to continue this work with us.




Discovering Herself in Washington D.C.

Each summer, SquashBusters connects students to life-changing opportunities to travel, learn, and play – including the Urban Squash Citizenship Tour, which several SQB students, staff & alumni recently joined.

sqbers on citizenship tour
Kiara (center right) joined urban squash students and alumni, including Lynette, (second from left, SQB Lawrence ’19) and Amy (second from right, SQB Boston ’14 and current staff member) on the 5th Annual Urban Squash Citizenship Tour.
Urban Squash Citizenship Tour students with Today Show Anchor Al Roker – Kiara is on his right!

The Urban Squash Citizenship Tour, hosted by Squash and Education Alliance (SEA), gives civically-minded and academically-accomplished high school and college students from across the country the opportunity to explore these questions during an 8-day trip that begins in New York City and ends in Washington, DC, with a stop in Philadelphia.

During the trip, students spent time with leaders in government, journalism, education, policy and the nonprofit community; visited sites that have played a part in American history; engaged with local urban squash programs; exercised and practiced at university and urban squash facilities; and promoted SEA’s local member programs and urban squash. Among other highlights, students met with Senator ​Cory Booker​, Senator ​Kirsten Gillibrand, and NBC Today Show Anchor​s Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and ​Willie Geist.

amy and kiara with supporter
Amy and Kiara even ran into Ashley Garrett (SQB Boston ’07) at a reception at Squash on Fire in Washington, D.C.

Over a dozen SquashBusters students and alumni have participated in the Citizenship Tour since it began five years ago. Below, hear from Kiara, SQB Boston ’18, about her experience in Washington, D.C.

Today my Citizenship Tour crew and I toured Washington D.C. For me, it is my first time here. I have never visited any state farther South than Pennsylvania. I enjoyed seeing all of the monuments, beautiful buildings, and the celebrations of the LGBTQ community all over the place. We also visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This particularly is my favorite highlight of the tour so far, because I found a little bit of myself today.

Being from Cape Verde and not knowing a lot about my own history, coming to this museum gave me more insight on it. Before I came to the United States at the age of 6, I did not know what “Black” was or which people were considered “African Americans.” Ever since, I have learned. Visiting this museum and seeing what my people (who I did not even know were my people) went through to achieve everything they have today was inspiring. As an African from Cape Verde, I know about the history of slavery, but I was not as affected by it as the African-Americans living in the United States because I did not have to experience many of the consequences of American slavery.

I have a sense of African pride that some might not have because they do not know much of their history and I realize this privilege I have. Even though I have been learning this history in schools for a decade, today I felt it harder than ever. I felt a connection like never before. I felt proud to be a part of the Black community like never before. Visiting this museum has left me even more inspired to continue the legacy of my ancestors. The museum is a beautiful place that makes the pain of slavery come to life, but also shows the beauty in the struggle. Through the struggle of enslavement to becoming free, the beauty of our culture was revealed through music and dance (one of the ways I connected because of the popularity of music and dance in Cape Verde) and so much more.

Experiencing this with my friends was also really amazing to me. I could not have gone through this painful but inspiring experience without their support. This tour has been really essential for me because it has given me the opportunity to connect with other young people who share my interest in changing the world. They are truly so bright and motivated. Sharing this experience with these individuals has been one of the best things I have done in my life.

To all my brothers and sisters, continue to discover yourselves too,


Originally published on the Urban Squash Citizenship Tour Blog.

SquashBusters Lawrence Reaches a Milestone

In its sixth year, SquashBusters Lawrence is fully grown with nearly 100 students in grades 6-12 and our very first graduates are college-bound – setting the stage for future success in classes to come.

First SquashBusters Lawrence Class is College-Bound

lawrence seniors
SQB Lawrence’s first class of seniors poses for a class photo in their new senior jackets! Clockwise from back left: Jeremy, Benito, Antar, Ashley, and Kat. (Not pictured: Jiberly)

2018 was a special year for SquashBusters Lawrence, as it marked the graduation of six students from the program’s first-ever class of recruits. The college acceptances received by these seniors were a direct result of years of commitment and dedication to their goal of a college education.

Building on the numerous college visits that students completed through their first five years in the program, and intensive SAT tutoring that each student received weekly during their junior year, each rising senior made multiple trips to the SquashBusters office during the 2017-2018 program year to continue their work on the college process. Extra time in the office was spent working on financial aid applications, essays, further research on different schools and more SAT practice tests. The fall months also offered the opportunity for additional college visits – many of which were crucial when it came time to make a decision later in the school year.

One of the most memorable moments of their senior year came during a December practice when, in a ceremony adapted from the Boston program, seniors read their college essays to the younger SQB students. The occasion not only allowed the oldest students on the team to share their personal stories with the rest of their teammates, but also gave all students in attendance a glimpse into the hard work required to succeed in high school. All in attendance, including middle schoolers, staff, and volunteers, were moved by the honesty and openness of the essays.

Jiberly, who has spent the last four years at Westover School in Middlebury, CT, was chosen by her classmates to be the student speaker at her graduation.

With the help of student mentors from Merrimack College as well as the SQB Staff – especially Post-Secondary Access & Success Program Coordinator Mike Shannon – every senior is poised for success for the next four years and beyond with a college choice that is a good fit academically and financially.

The SquashBusters Lawrence class of 2018 will be attending the following schools:

JEREMY DEL ROSARIO –Northern Essex Community College
BENITO DERAS – Bridgewater State University
ANTAR JIMENEZ JR. – Babson College
KATHERINE LEIVA – St. Lawrence University
JIBERLY SANDOVAL – Dickinson College

Lawrence Program Readies for its Busiest Summer Yet!

The Kenyon trip includes an opportunity for students to take in the sights at Niagara Falls on the way back to Lawrence from Ohio.

Though schools are on vacation during the summer months, our students will remain active through dozens of summer programs and opportunities made available to them through SquashBusters. Whether they are stimulating their intellectual curiosity in the classroom, honing their squash skills on court, or spending the summer outdoors and sleeping in log cabins, dozens of SQB Lawrence students will be making the most of their time off from school at a variety of day and sleepaway camps.

This summer, SquashBusters Lawrence has connected students to the following opportunities:

  • Academic enrichment programming like Exeter Summer at Phillips Exeter Academy and Phillips Academy Andover Summer Session, opportunities coordinated in conjunction with the Squash + Education Alliance.
  • Improving their squash skills at numerous camps across New England like Peter Nicol Squash Academy at Amherst College, Premier Performance Squash Camp at Wesleyan University, Williams College’s Squash and Beyond Camp, Hansi Wiens Squash Camps at Dartmouth, and SEA Squash Squads at Deerfield Academy.
  • Days and nights spent in the wilderness at several of the YMCA’s day and overnight camps in New Hampshire – Camp Lawrence, Camp Nokomis, and Camp Otter – as well as the West End House Girls Camp in Maine, and Camp Waban in Canada.
  • Road tripping and sight-seeing our way from Lawrence to the Urban Squash Midwest Regionals at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
  • Learning about careers in government and public service through SEA’s Citizenship Tour. The eight day trip will pass through New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. where participants will meet leaders in politics and media. Past panelists have included U.S. Senator Corey Booker, NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt, and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

In addition the these external programs, students remaining in Lawrence will have the opportunity to stay involved with SquashBusters through our own summer programming and squash squads through the month of July on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover. These sessions will be comprised of team building activities, team trips, and an excursion to our sister program in Providence, as well as two weeks of intensive squash training. This allows students the opportunity to remain engaged with the program as well as benefit from many of the positive aspects of summer camps while staying close to home. To learn more about our middle school summer programming, click here!

Furthermore, rising seniors will participate in multiple college prep sessions where they will get a jump start on applications, essays, as well as further SAT tutoring before the start of their final year of high school.

Huge thanks to Essex County Community Foundation for supporting our internal summer programs at SQB Lawrence!

A Whirlwind Year of Squash

The SquashBusters Girls U-15 team poses with their finalist trophies at the 2018 Urban Team Nationals Tournament in New York City.

The 2017-2018 year was the busiest ever in terms of squash competitions for our students here in Lawrence. Over the course of the year, we participated in 24 matches and 14 tournaments, travelling to seven states for numerous day trips and weekend overnights.

Though each competition had its own individual triumphs, there were a few moments in particular that stood out among a year of on-court achievement for SquashBusters Lawrence.

In the first-ever StreetSquash match consisting of players from four different program sites (Boston and Lawrence for SquashBusters, Harlem and Newark for StreetSquash) SquashBusters emerged victorious in a thrilling affair. The 19th iteration of this friendly competition pitted the top fourteen male and female players from the two programs and drew a crowd to watch the day of squash at Yale University. Thirteen high schoolers from Lawrence competed and were proud to make sure the trophy returned to Massachusetts for the third straight year.

We continued our strong relationship with Portland Community Squash, with four matches throughout the winter months. One of these excursions was the first-ever squash match (and first-ever trip to Maine!) for many of our first-year students. Portland and Lawrence students helped each other through serving, rallying, and scoring before sharing pizzas after a great day on court.

The high school team also continued its tradition of facing off against St. Paul’s School – a duel which not only pits our top players against the JV teams of one of the strongest high school programs in the region, but also sees SQB Lawrence coach Darryl Soto face off against his old SquashBusters coach, Chris Smith. This matchup marked the first time an SQB team got the better of these particular opponents, with the Lawrence girls narrowly edging the St. Paul’s girls 8-6, before the whole group headed back to Lawrence for a team dinner.

SquashBusters Lawrence also had several exciting individual results from the multitude of tournaments attended – including 11th grader Winipher Romero winning the GU17 A Draw at Urban Individual Regionals, and 8th Grader Julissa Morales taking home the top spot in the GU15 B draw at Urban Individual Nationals.

Still to come this summer, students can look forward to squash time during our summer programming sessions at Phillips Academy, as well as two weeks of intensive squash squads for our most motivated students looking for a leg-up before the start of the new year in September. Also, a group of nine intrepid high schoolers and three staff will be road tripping to Kenyon University in Gambier, OH for the Midwest Urban Squash Regionals.

Want more SquashBusters news?

Read the 2018 year-end newsletter for SquashBusters Boston.

Read the 2018 year-end newsletter for SquashBusters Providence.