With Some Soggy Paddle Play, Thrilling Squash Competition, and Good Fun
The 2023 MashUp once again brought paddle and squash pros, amateurs, students, and fans together for some exciting competition for a good cause. In its 11th year supporting SquashBusters Lawrence, the MashUp presented by the New Balance Foundation spread over two weekends in December to great success. Despite Mother Nature’s downpours, our intrepid paddle teams did their best to eke out some competition at the Dedham County and Polo Club and The Country Club in Brookline on December 3rd, while squash returned to Brooks School in North Andover, likely for the last time; next year we hope to host in our own center! More than 150 players, guests, sponsors and friends contributed to a remarkable fundraising total of over $415,000.
Our paddle teams did their best to kick-off the race for the 2023 Krapels Cup, battling near constant downpours all morning. Despite only one round of competition, all our teams enjoyed a warm welcome and meaningful reflections on the value of SquashBusters from our students Jomar Garcia and Brenda Hernandez. Former-CEO Greg Zaff made an appearance sharing with the group, “I would not want to be anywhere else. Seriously, this means everything to me and I am so glad to share the morning and the mission with all of you, while turning it over to Rosemary, Rodney, Becca and Alé, as it’s now their mission.” Special thanks to our paddle pro veterans and newbies – Scott Staniar, Pat McNally, Bill Power, Leo Power, Thomas Nolan, Mike Miller, Stefan Koruga, and Milo Johnson – who took time out of their schedules to support our cause once more.
The squash competition started bright and early the following Sunday with Lawrence Program Director, Vicky Flamenco, welcoming the teams, captains and pros. Rodney Galvao, Senior Development Officer and John Nimick, Tournament Emcee Extraordinaire, joined our students for some spirited circle-ups and qilos, and the competition was underway. When the last ball rolled into the nick, it was the Merrimack Volley, captained by Bruce Landay and Bill Paine, who emerged on top, a total reversal from their fourth place finish last year.
As the pros hit the the courts, former World Champion Thierry Lincou, representing the Andover Academics, took on the Essex County Nicks’ Hameed Ahmed, while crowd favorite Arthur Gaskin of the Merrimack Volley battled Lawrence Legion’s Kush Kumar, who is fast becoming an SQB regular. Lincou and Kumar emerged victorious, setting up a rematch from the semi-final round last year. Lincou would not be denied this time around, and beat Kumar, sealing the fate for the Legion who might have tied the Volley with a win. Ultimately, Kumar’s loss did not affect the outcome, as Gaskin beat Ahmed sealing Merrimack’s victory. Gaskin also completed a grand slam, serving as the pro on the winning team in all three SQB events in 2023 – the Rumble, the Derby, and the MashUp. Debate of his GOAT status will surely ensue as, like Serena, not all his wins came in the same competition year.
While the paddle and squash matches were spirited and fun, the real heart and soul of the MashUp is the chance for players, pros, and supporters to get know our incredible students. This year, that opportunity included a moving speech from Brenda Hernandez about how SQB supported her through some difficult times growing up – even when she was “a lot”. Hearing her words, we were all reminded of the power of SquashBusters to be a force for good in our students’ lives and for change in the world. Supporters also had the chance to go toe to toe on court with some former students, as six program alums participated in the tournament. Sarah Emerson concluded the day with stories and a tribute to her husband Ed Krapels, who worked alongside Greg Zaff, Tom Hodgson and others to bring SQB to Lawrence. “He loved SquashBusters, its mission, its students”, she told the crowd, as she presented the cup named in his honor to the new champions, the Merrimack Volley.
The MashUp would not be possible without the support of our incredible community and especially our sponsors: Acadian Software, Brown Brothers Harriman, Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation, Mighty Squirrel Brewing Co., Westfield Capital Management, Winstanley Enterprises, Floyd Advisory, Moore Concrete Cutting, and Bank of New England.
We have more wonderful picture of the day which you can see at the links below.
Paddle – PW: srwf67