Welcome to our 28th year of programming – truly a remarkable feat. When Greg Zaff loaded up a van back in 1996 with 24 trusting middle school students, some squash racquets, and a passion to change the world for the better, he couldn’t have imagined what he was starting.
As most of you know, Greg retired from organizational leadership over the summer, though he is still involved with stewardship and mentoring. After eight terrific years with SQB, most recently as Chief Financial Officer, I am honored to be SquashBusters’ interim CEO during this time of transition. Because we have a terrific leadership team and a committed and involved Board of Directors, we are able to take our time identifying the best fit for Greg’s permanent successor. You should expect to hear more about our vision for that process in the late spring of 2024.
Thanks to our amazing staff, programming hasn’t skipped a beat, and this year is off to another great start, so please read on to hear what’s been happening in the last few months at SQB.
Paving the way in Providence
This season marks a pivotal moment as the first cohort of Providence students embark on their post-secondary journeys. Over the summer, these SQB pioneers took crucial steps towards shaping their futures. From crafting compelling personal statements to navigating the Common Application process, our students demonstrated the same resilience, determination, and commitment to their education that they have shown on the squash courts.
Bianca Camacho, our dedicated Program Manager for Academics, has worked closely with these students, providing guidance, mentorship, and resources to ensure they are well-equipped for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Her deep, long-term relationships with all the students is helping to ensure they make choices that are the best fit academically, financially, and culturally, and is helping them to recognize that everyone’s post-secondary path is unique and may look different than their teammate’s.
We know from our experiences in Boston and Lawrence that as these students embark on their post-secondary journeys, they become ambassadors for change in their community. Their achievements will serve as a source of inspiration for younger students, showcasing that with dedication and support, anything is possible.
We can’t wait to see what they achieve. Stay tuned for updates throughout the year.
Breaking Ground and Building Dreams in Lawrence
Finally last winter, we broke ground on the New Balance Foundation SquashBusters Center—a pivotal moment in the life of our Lawrence program.
Since expanding north from Boston in 2012, SquashBusters Lawrence has been in search of a permanent home. In less than a year, the New Balance Foundation SquashBusters Center will be just that—a forever home.
In collaboration with Lawrence Community Works (LCW), our new facility on a 4-acre parcel goes beyond being a building. It will stand as a center of belonging and opportunity for the community of Lawrence, bringing affordable housing, green space, and outdoor recreation to the city. And the SQB Center is designed to be a true community hub. Plans are well-underway to ensure the building is used by the community when SQB is not in session for activities such as English language classes, job training, co-working spaces and a community squash center.
The first phase of construction, the core and shell, is complete and work will begin on the fit-out of the classrooms, squash courts, offices and gym in the new year. The project is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2024.
Keep an eye on our website for more updates and plans to celebrate the opening as we get closer.
Though summer may seem like a distant memory, we thought you’d enjoy hearing about some of the highlights. It was a busy season and our focus extended well beyond the squash courts, encapsulating our holistic approach to youth development.
On or Off Court with Kids (“OOOCWK”)
OOOCWK was designed to give our students and staff informal opportunities to get together outside the hectic schedule of the school year. Staff engaged with 141 students, hosting over 100 unique OOOCWK sessions on everything from training for a 5K to biking around the city to ice cream meetups to (of course) time on the courts.
Annual SquashBusters Individuals Championship
Seventy-two students showcased their athletic prowess and sportsmanship at the annual SquashBusters Individuals Championship, emphasizing the growth and dedication of our young athletes. It was also a great moment for cross-site bonding, something that is difficult to do during the school year.
Arthur Gaskin Camps @SQB Providence
In collaboration with Arthur Gaskin and PVD Squash, we hosted four clinics at SQB Providence, with 14-20 students actively participating in each camp.
Phillips Andover Squash Program for SQB Lawrence
Twenty-eight SQB Lawrence students experienced two weeks of intensive squash training at Phillips Academy Andover.
Post-Secondary Planning Support for Rising 12th Grade Students
Our 42-rising 12th-grade students each received 8-12 hours of guidance, preparing them for their post-secondary journeys.
Beyond the Walls of SQB
Outside of SquashBusters, our students thrived in various internships and camps. Eleven secured internships at notable places such as the Boys and Girls Club, Fidelity Investments, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute,12 students participated in squash camps at esteemed colleges, while 29 students engaged in academic camps at renowned institutions like Brown University, Harvard, MIT, Hotchkiss, and Temple University.