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.