Another Incredible Year at SquashBusters Boston

Another year comes to an end at SquashBusters, and we’re thrilled to look back on a year of extraordinary accomplishments – from stepping up the squash culture to sending another full class of graduates to college.

SquashBusters Boston Makes the Journey To & Through

The SQB Boston class of 2018, 100% of whom are enrolling in college this fall.

For the fourth year in a row, 100% of SquashBusters’ program graduates will be enrolling in college, and we are so proud of each and every one of them.

The impressive list of schools below is a direct result of the collective effort, commitment, and dedication that this class has put in over the course of their academic and SQB careers. From the very start of their time in the program as middle school students, SquashBusters students are exposed to college through visits and competitions and academic sessions at SQB. Throughout their high school years, students attend regular workshops to build and strengthen their college-readiness skills, including organization, time management and effective study habits, and junior year, they complete a 40-hour SAT prep course.

As seniors, they finally made their college dream a reality. With SquashBusters by their sides – including College and Alumni Success Manager Mikhail Darlington, Academic Program Manager Eileen Barrer, and their volunteer college mentors – the seniors worked hard on their college lists, applications, and essays, to ultimately find schools that fit academically and financially. On average, 84% of their financial aid was met through debt-free grants and scholarships, and no student took on more than $7,500 in annual student debt.

“The class of 2018 put in an incredible amount of work this year balancing their applications with their busy senior schedules,” says Mikhail. “We are so proud of them for what they’ve achieved, and we’re confident that each and every one of them is heading to a school where they’ll succeed.”

The SquashBusters class of 2018 will be heading to the following schools:

Alum Deanna Pettway (SQB Boston ’13) hugs Heyssis Castillo (SQB Boston ’18) at the annual Seniors vs. Alumni Match at SquashBusters on May 31.

HEYSSIS CASTILLO – Trinity College
CHRISTINA DIXON – Northeastern University
YVONNE DUNKLEY – Babson College
ELIAS GONZALEZ – Foundation Year at Northeastern University
YANJING HUANG — Bucknell University
TINA JAGMOHAN – Hampshire College
KIMBERLYN JONES – Boston College
CYNTHIA LI – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
AYRAMALYS MEJIA – Mass. Bay Community College
ALEJANDRO MELGUIZO – Foundation Year at Northeastern University
AUDREY MELO – UMass Amherst
BELKIS MONTAS – Foundation Year at Northeastern University
MARK ANTHONY WILLIAMS – Foundation Year at Northeastern University
TONI WOODS – Smith College

graduation photo
Helam Ayano (SquashBusters ’13) proudly holds up her degree after graduating from Northeastern University this spring.

Of course, their graduation from the program does not mean that they leave the SquashBusters family. Mikhail and the SquashBusters College and Alumni Success team stay in regular contact with each college-enrolled alum, to help them navigate the big transition to college life and work through any obstacles that might stand in the way of completing their degrees.

Luckily, they have quite a few role models to look up to in that department. Eleven SquashBusters alumni graduated from college this year:

HELAM AYANO – Northeastern University
LOSANGELA BATISTA – St. Lawrence University
AARON COSS – Bentley University
KEVEN DEPINA – Bates College
ALÉJANDRA MADRID – Mass. Bay Community College
ANTENEH MEKONNEN – Roger Williams University
SADIKI SOLOMON – Rochester Institute of Technology
YAMILES URENA – Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Congratulations to all of the 2018 graduates – we are so excited to see what’s next for each and every one of you!

Stepping Up Their Squash Game

sqb vs. streetsquash
SquashBusters took home the cup at the annual SQB vs. StreetSquash match in March.

The 2017-2018 program year saw some serious strides for the SquashBusters Boston squash program. The first-ever Boston Public Schools varsity squash team – which received the official sanction from the district’s athletic department – finished its inaugural season at 9-5 on the Girls’ side, and 8-7 for the Boys. But this was only one chapter in the story.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our squash staff, nearly every one of our Boston students – from our youngest and most novice players to the very top of the ladder – competed in at least one match or tournament during the program year. Along with valuable competitive experience on the court, competitions provide our students with opportunities to travel to new places – including prep school and college campuses – and meet new people who are similarly passionate about the sport of squash.

Altogether, SQB Boston students participated in 59 competitive squash opportunities this year. Some highlights included the Howe Cup in Washington, D.C., the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA)’s Urban Team Nationals in New York City, the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships in Philadelphia, and the SquashBusters vs. StreetSquash match in at Yale University.

On top of competitions, more than 25 students participated in the Elite Training Squad (ETS), which is an additional opportunity for students to build squash skills by participating in optional practices on Saturday mornings. Huge thanks to our ETS volunteers, Ryan Thompson and Alex Spiliotes, for helping make this opportunity possible for our students. And twenty students were matched with volunteer squash mentors, with whom they practiced on a regular basis. Thank you to our squash mentors for your dedication to helping our students improve!

“From the amount of exposure that the students are getting, to the general strength of the overall ladder, the level of the squash programming at SquashBusters Boston has never been higher,” says SQB Founder and CEO Greg Zaff. “I’m incredibly proud to see a continual hunger for more opportunities and improvement driving this change – from both the students and the staff – and can’t wait to see where we go from here.”

Working Hard, Playing Hard: Summer at SquashBusters

students with cory booker
SquashBusters students met Cory Booker on the 2017 SEA Citizenship Tour.

Here at SquashBusters, summer is more than a vacation – it’s a time for our students to build on the work they do during the school year by continuing to expand their minds, sharpen their squash skills, and build their personal networks. This summer, more than 70 of our Boston students will be setting off for squash squads, academic programs, recreational camps and employment experiences all over the world.

SquashBusters teams up with incredible partners like the Squash and Education Association (SEA), Summer Search, and the Lewis Family Foundation to connect our students to life-changing experiences that challenge them in ways they never thought possible.

This summer, SquashBusters has connected our Boston students to the following activities:

  • Stimulating their intellectual curiosity by participating in summer academic programs like Exeter Summer at Phillip Exeter Academy, Harvard University’s Crimson Summer Academy, and Boston University SummerLab
  • Building their squash skills at squads like Peter Nicol Squash Academy at Amherst College, Dartmouth College Squash Camps, MIT Squash Camp with Thierry Lincou, Premier Performance Squash Camp at Wesleyan University, and Williams College Squash and Beyond Camp
  • Heading off to summer camp in the great outdoors at Camp Dudley, Camp Woodstock and West End House Camps
  • Road-tripping across state lines, along with SquashBusters Lawrence and Providence, to compete in urban squash Midwest Championship at Kenyon College – the journey to Gambier, Ohio, will incorporate stops in Niagara Falls and Pittsburgh along the way!
  • Learning about careers in government and public service through SEA’s Citizenship Tour, an 8-day academic and athletic trip with stops in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC – past participants have met big names like U.S Senator Cory Booker, NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt, and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan
  • Service learning in Kenya and Tanzania, along with a summer internship at Grand Circle Corporation, through the Lewis Family Foundation’s Next Generation Leaders program
  • Off-the-grid adventuring in the wilderness of Colorado and sailing lessons in Boston Harbor through Summer Search

Along with these external programs, students will also be able to stay active and engaged with SQB at our youth center on the campus of Northeastern University. Through open court time and our On Or Off Court With Kids (OOOCWK) challenge – which pairs staff and volunteers with individual students for weekly squash and/or fitness sessions – students are able to keep moving during July and August.

For our middle school students, the SQB Boston Summer Slam will take place from July 16-August 2. Learn more about the Summer Slam here.

Want more SquashBusters news?

Read the 2018 year-end newsletter for SquashBusters Lawrence.

Read the 2018 year-end newsletter for SquashBusters Providence.