Providence was definitely ready to rumble on January 26 when more than 150 supporters filled the Gorgi Center for Squash and Education at Moses Brown School for the first annual SquashBusters Rumble, presented by Bank of America. They were treated to an exciting day of amateur and professional squash, as the afternoon culminated in a round robin among some of the best squash players in the world.
The event was held to raise critical funds for SquashBusters Providence, which is in its first full year of operation, and garnered nearly $270,000, thanks in part to corporate sponsors Parsons Kellogg, Brown Brothers Harriman, Westfield Capital Management, Hall Capital Management Company, the de Ramel Foundation, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
With an opening on Saturday afternoon straight out of World Wrestling Entertainment, host John Nimick donned a shoe-length black leather coat and killer sunglasses to introduce an incredible cast of pro squash stars, including Nick “The Wolf” Matthew, Todd “The Terminator” Harrity, King Arthur Gaskin, Bonnie Prince Peter Nicol and Queen Nour El Tayeb of Egypt. Fresh off his first victory at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions the night before, a result that will see him rise to World No. 1 for February, Harvard graduate Ali Farag was unable to participate after receiving a sudden and unexpected call-up to Egyptian military service, requiring him to return to Cairo.
With America’s top ranked PSA player Harrity at the helm, Captain Ashley Jacobs’ Rhody Scholars took top honors as Rumble One Champions, outpointing second place finishers The Sharks, captained by two of the Rumble’s top fundraisers Habib Gorgi and Bill Hatfield of Bank of America. The Sharks did come away with the equally prestigious Tidal Wave trophy, presented to the most successful fundraising team. The Sharks were led into pro battle by World No. 3 Nour El Tayeb. No quarter was asked or given in her three round robin matches against the gentlemen. Six time Irish National Champion Arthur Gaskin and former World No. 1 and World Champion Peter Nicol teamed up to lead The Kilts into third place, while former World No. 1 and World Champion Nick Matthew represented the Rhode Warriors, the Rumble’s second best fundraising team headed up Paul Salem and playing captain Peter Gemma.
Kealie Burt, a member of the Providence seventh grade team spoke movingly about how much the program has helped her and has become a second family. She remembered a time when she was in a cooking competition and none of her family could be there; her whole SquashBusters team and coaches showed up instead to cheer her on and see her win first place.
Founder and CEO Greg Zaff 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.