Busy Start for SquashBusters Lawrence

The Lawrence program has hit the ground running this fall – recruiting our newest class of sixth graders, traveling to tournaments across New England, and preparing for two of the year’s most exciting events!

Sixth Grade Recruitment in Full Swing

Cam and Dora describe a typical SquashBusters practice to the nearly 50 Arlington students who signed up for the after-school tryout.

We are deep in the midst of the 8-week tryout process for new SquashBusters. Take a look at the timeline below for a rundown of our process and how we find the newest members of the SQB Lawrence team!

Week 1- Student recruitment begins with SquashBusters staff and a few all-star volunteers visiting every sixth grade gym class at our two partner schools in Lawrence: the Arlington Middle School and the Emily G. Wetherbee School. In 20-minute intervals, students receive a SquashBusters crash course and leave the gym clinic having learned about the program, tried the sport of squash, and armed with permission slips and information on how to continue in the tryout process.

Week 2 – Tryouts are held at our partner middle schools. This year, more than 90 students from an original pool of 250 signed up – our highest number ever in Lawrence! In a simulated SquashBusters practice, students spend an hour in the gym hitting squash balls and another hour receiving homework help. After this practice, the SquashBusters middle school staff narrows the group of 90 students to just 20 from each school. When making these decisions, staff look for students demonstrating positivity, the ability to work well with others, and a strong work ethic in squash and in the classroom. Staff also meet with teachers at our partner schools for feedback about the students participating in tryouts.

Weeks 3 through 5 – After parent and guardian meetings with all students selected for this round, each student attends three SquashBusters practices. At last, potential team members are able to jump on the SQB buses, attend practices at Brooks School with members of the current SQB team, and play on actual squash courts! This period also allows staff to assess the chemistry of the students trying out with the existing group. Staff continue to meet with teachers to ensure each student is demonstrating a strong work ethic and positivity in the classroom as well as with SquashBusters.

Weeks 6 through 13 – The group of candidates is narrowed down to 10-12 new students from Arlington Middle School and 10-12 from Wetherbee School. Before students are officially welcomed to the team, they must continue to demonstrate the SquashBusters’ core qualities and a strong commitment to the program by achieving a minimum 85% attendance rate over the course of these two months. If students can do all this, they are officially introduced as the newest members of SquashBusters in a celebration in January.

Tryouts represent one of the most exciting times of the year, as the newest recruits begin what will be a seven-year journey through the SquashBusters program, culminating in college acceptance and opportunities beyond. We can’t wait to officially welcome the newest members to the team this January!

New Challenges at Year’s First Tournament

The group was all smiles after another day packed with exciting matches at the Urban Team Regionals!

Early on the morning of Saturday, October 13th, 24 sleepy but determined students packed into two SQB buses and settled in for the three-hour trek to Yale University in New Haven, CT. These SquashBusters students were selected to represent Lawrence at the Squash and Education Alliance’s Northeast Team Regionals – our first big tournament on the 2018-2019 calendar.

Having won the tournament’s B draw in recent years, the boys’ and girls’ high school teams prepared themselves for the challenges of the A draw. While both teams fell to talented teams from StreetSquash Harlem, the boys emerged victorious in a tough battle against StreetSquash Newark, while the girls edged out a close contest against their teammates from SquashBusters Boston. Both teams competed against some of the top programs in the region and acquitted themselves admirably, finishing the day in 2nd place.

The middle school teams also competed hard that day. The middle school boys won their first two matches against StreetSquash Harlem B and SquashBusters Providence before falling 3-2 to SquashBusters Boston in the final. The girls’ team, competing in the tournament’s top middle school division for the first time, lost all three matches on the day, but fought hard in each contest and enjoyed a day where each player was thoroughly challenged on court.

After a tough day of competition, students unanimously agreed the day had been a successful experience. High School captain Charlenny noted at the next practice how hard each Lawrence team member had competed, and was convinced that the tournament will serve as motivation heading into the squash season this winter. Huge thanks to Yale and SquashHaven for hosting another great tournament – we can’t wait to attend the next one!

Plenty of Excitement the Horizon!

The turnout for the 2017 MashUp was the largest ever – help us make this year’s event even bigger!

Two big Lawrence events will be here before you know it, so mark your calendars!

The first is the SquashBusters Lawrence Team Celebration and Potluck hosted at the Everett Mills in Lawrence on Tuesday, November 6th – remember to get out and vote before you come! The dinner welcomes students and families to another year of SquashBusters Lawrence, gives an opportunity to visit with old friends and make some new ones, and introduces those students in the final stages of tryouts to the rest of the team. In addition to students and families, volunteers, supporters, and SQB partners are welcome to attend! Please bring a homemade dish to share on what is easily the most delicious night on our calendar.

Then, on Sunday, December 9th, come join us at the sixth annual SquashBusters MashUp presented by Anbaric. In what is a highlight of the Lawrence program’s year, friends of SquashBusters gather at Brooks School and North Andover Country Club for our annual fundraiser. The day consists of simultaneous squash and platform tennis competitions (including several pro exhibitions), student speakers, an awards ceremony and more. For more info on the MashUp, including event timing and pro bios, please visit the MashUp website.

Both events are open to the public! For more details, click the links above or contact Andrés Burbank-Crump at a.burbankcrump@squashbusters.org .