Another Successful Year for SQB Boston

Seniors Are College Bound!

For the fifth time in as many years SquashBusters is proud to announce that all of the graduating senior class will be enrolling in college. We are extremely proud of all the hard work they have done and are excited to see them take this next step.

The list of schools below reflects the drive and determination that this special group of students has brought to the classroom and to the squash courts over their years in the program. From the time they entered in seventh grade these students were exposed to college campuses through college visits and tournaments. Through weekly academic sessions and various workshops they were provided with critical thinking tools that will help them tackle any problem that may arise on their academic journey. And SquashBusters’ focus on community service and health has prepared them to be highly engaged members of their community and beyond.

As seniors, students were able to capitalize on all that hard work and make higher education a reality. With the help of Mikhail Darlington, Manager or Post-Secondary Access and Success, and Sally Rowland, Program Associate, and the support of their college mentors, seniors persevered through the extensive college application process with great success. They were tasked with writing a compelling personal statement, formulating balanced and challenging lists of schools, and filling out countless hours of application and verification forms. But the results were worth the hard work – in addition to the acceptances, an average of 85% of the cost of attendance is covered by grants of scholarships.

“This class was a very special class. Their willingness to go the extra mile when they had so much going on in their academic and personal lives speaks volumes” said Mikhail. “No matter what challenge arose, they were always ready to fight through it. And I think that will reflect the amazing people they will become”.

We are proud to say that next year the class of 2019 will be attending the following schools:

KYLE ADAR
Bunker Hill Community College
SNIDER AMAZAN
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
JOSIAH BENNETT
Wesleyan University
NAA-JUAH BENTON
Bridgewater State University
ANGELA CAO
Connecticut College
YULIELIAN CEPEDA RODRIGUEZ
UMass-Boston
DILON DAWKINS
UMass-Boston
DENITRA DOUGLAS-ROBERTSON
Boston University
KEISA FERREIRA
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
GERARDO GARCIA
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
NY HO
Northeastern University
VANEL JOSEPH
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
MEI RUAN JUAN
UMass – Amherst
RUSSEL SANCHEZ
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
KAYMARI TEJEDA
UMass – Boston
ARIANY TERRERO
UMass-Boston
SPENCER THOMAS
Becker College
BEVERLY VO
Tufts University
CYPRESS WILSON
Wentworth Institute of Technology
KAETU WLEH
Amherst College

Once they graduate, however, their involvement with SquashBusters does not end. SQB recognizes that a successful graduate is one that is able enter society with all the skills necessary to thrive. Corey Schafer, Director of College and Alumni Success, remains in regular contact with each college-enrolled alum. She assists them in navigating the life-altering transition to college and helps them access resources they need to complete their journey. This year we have eleven graduates who have completed that journey and are off to start a new one as they enter their careers.

Below are the SQB alumni who graduated from college this year:

EMANUEL ANDRADE
Boston University
NELSMARIE MATOS ARROYO
Boston College
HELAM AYANO
Northeastern University
ARMANDO BARRAGAN
Norwich University
LOSANGELA BATISTA
St. Lawrence University
MAKAYLA BECKFORD
Simmons College
AARON COSS
Bentley University
KEVEN DEPINA
Bates College
ILMA GOLEMI
Suffolk University
ABEL HAILU
Northeastern University
MICHAEL HOGARTY
Emmanuel College
QUERBY JANVIER
Simmons College
JUAN LOPERA
Clark University
CRISTIAN LOPEZ
UMass – Amherst
ALEJANDRA MADRID
Mass Bay Community College
ANTENEH MEKONNEN
Roger Williams University
XHORXHIA PAPA
Northeastern University
DEANNA PETTWAY
Northeastern University
ZUSEX ROMERO
UMass – Boston
BENNY SANQUINTIN
UMass – Boston
HENRY SANTANA
Lasell College
KILSY SOTO
Bunker Hill Community College
JASMINE ZHOU
Providence College

Continuing their commitment to education that they developed early on at SquashBusters, the following alumni will enroll in graduate school this fall:

QUERBY JANVIER
Simmons College, Master of Nursing
JUAN LOPERA
Clark University, Master of Business Administration
XHORXHIA PAPA
MA College of Pharmacy, Doctor of Pharmacy
VANIA PEREIRA
Brown University, Masters of American Studies
ZOE RUSSELL
Harvard University, School of Law

We are so proud of all our graduates and can’t wait to hear about the next stage of their journeys.

A Year of Great Squash!

The SquashBusters Boston squash program continued to improve and experience success during the 2018-2019 program year.  In addition to internal squash practices and challenge matches, SQB Boston students participated in 64 external competitions – 42 matches and 22 tournaments.  These opportunities brought students to new cities such as New York and Washington DC, and to colleges and universities such as Williams, Amherst, Wesleyan, and Yale.  High school students received an average of 8 competitive opportunities during the program year, and produced impressive results.

In their second year representing Boston Public Schools, SQB Boston’s varsity teams experienced banner seasons.  The girls and boys went 14-3 and 16-2 respectively, records which included wins over schools such as Milton Academy, Episcopal High School, Shipley School, Pomfret School, and Loomis Chaffee School.  At the High School National Championships in Hartford, CT, the boys took home top-honors in Division 4 while the girls moved up a division and finished fifth in Division 3.  Both results were marked improvements over the previous year.

A month later, teams traveled to Yale University with 90 students for Urban Team Nationals.  Strong results continued, as SquashBusters’ teams won 3 separate divisions, including the A-Division for high school girls.

Helping fuel the improvement in skill-level were the Elite Training Squad and Squash Mentors Program.  The Elite Training Squad is a group of 20 SQB Boston students who participate weekly in an intense and focused practice early on Saturday mornings, run by volunteers Geoff and Bryan Keating.  Additionally, 18 students participated in the squash mentors program, which paired our most driven players with volunteers from the Boston area who provided them with one-on-one coaching and mentoring.  A huge thank you to Geoff, Bryan, and all of our squash mentors for making these programs possible!

Lastly, the SQB-Boston squash program is proud to be sending four graduates to play varsity college squash next season.  We wish Angela (Connecticut College), Beverly (Tufts University), Josiah (Wesleyan University), and Kaetu (Amherst College) all the best in the next phase of their squash careers!

New Balance & SQB: Home & Away

What is is like work at one the world’s premiere athletic apparel manufacturers? SQB Boston students got a chance to find out.

New Balance is an incredible partner to SQB in ways that go far beyond financial support. This past spring, SquashBusters had the opportunity to continue to deepen that partnership through the New Balance & SQB: Home & Away Experience. This pilot initiative took place on two different days. First, 20 SQB Boston Seniors went to New Balance HQ for career exploration and a site visit (Away). A month later, a team of New Balance associates came to SQB Boston (Home) and participated in an “SQB afternoon” led entirely by the seniors.

The SQB@New Balance Career Exploration was an opportunity for our students to gain exposure to diverse career paths and professional development skills and to network with New Balance associates.  The visit involved a tour of HQ, two panel discussions, Q&A, and concluded with lunch. The first group of panelists focused on interview prep and how to market yourself professionally, while the second group explored different departments and positions offered at New Balance. The panelists were comprised of a diverse team of New Balance associates who were able to talk to the students about their relevant departments, roles, and their own professional development stories.

New Balance@SQB took place a few weeks later, when a team of New Balance associates visited SquashBusters during programming hours. The visit was led entirely by Boston seniors, as a way for the New Balance staff to get a better understanding of the program from the student perspective. The visit included a student-led tour of the facility, a squash exhibition match between former world #1 squash player, Thierry Lincou, and SQB Squash Coach, Guy Davidson, and activities both on and off court that New Balance associates and SquashBusters seniors competed in together.

We look forward to continuing to deepen our partnership in the coming program year and beyond.

Want more SQB news?

Read the 2019 Lawrence year-end newsletter.

Read the 2019 Providence year-end newsletter.

2019 SquashBusters MFS Derby sets another record!

Evening speakers and SQB Seniors, Josiah Bennett and Gerardo Garcia

The 13th running of the MFS SquashBusters Derby in Boston over the first weekend in May established several new benchmarks for the urban squash program’s most important event of the year.  Foremost was a record-setting fundraising total of $1.47 million, generated by more than 100 amateur player/fundraisers and major corporate support from lead Title sponsor MFS Investments, Diamond sponsor Westfield Capital Management and Gold sponsors Brown Brothers Harriman, Loomis, Sayles, & Co., Intercontinental Real Estate and William O’Neil + Co.

The Derby also ushered in a new champion as the retirement of perennial champ Wallbanger opened the gates for captain Tucker Hamlin’s True Blue to take the 2019 title.  Anchored in doubles by past captains Jamie Fagan and Ming Tsai, the rest of the doubles squad included Jesse Lane, Pete McIntire, David Hall, Joe Hegenbart, SquashBusters Executive Director (and double hipster) Greg Zaff and pro Mike Ferreira.  True Blue’s singles roster included Hamlin, Guy Davidson, Greg Ho, Cameron Rahbar, Todd Manley and Todd Bourell, but it was Wael El Hindi who truly earned the roses for True Blue as the charismatic Egyptian star devastated the hopes and dreams of newcomers Bob’s Cats in the Derby final by slotting an overhead nick on Todd Harrity, fellow elite pro and leader of the all-Princeton team, to win the match 15-14.

Winners of the 2019 MFS SquashBusters Derby, True Blue

While the on court theatrics were world class, especially with elite stars David Palmer, Campbell Grayson, Clinton Leeuw, Nick Taylor, Amanda and Sabrina Sobhy, Timmy Brownell, Mike Ferreira, Yvain Badan, Jeff Stanley, Gary Waite, Chris Walker, John Roberts and Mark Talbott all joining in, the effort of some individual fundraisers was out of this world.  Founding Derby Chairman and ex-Wallbanger Captain Amrit Kanwal took home the Secretariat Award for top fundraiser with a total over $100,000.  Jamie Fagan was close behind at $75,000, while Will Muggia, Dave Drubner, Sandy Tierney and George Bell all  topped $50,000.

But the real stars of the 2019 Derby were SquashBusters seniors Josiah Bennett and Gerardo Garcia who concluded the Saturday evening speaking program at SquashBusters on the campus of Northeastern University with a powerful set of remarks, trading the podium back and forth as they movingly and humorously relayed their personal stories and the impact of the SquashBusters program to the packed audience.

Junior Stakes players

Special thanks goes to the University Club of Boston for hosting two highly festive days of doubles, Jeannie Blasberg and Dave Drubner as Co-Chairs, John Nimick as Derby Host and development committee member, all the SquashBusters students who played, Simone Winston for once again organizing a successful Junior Stakes segment, Nick Taylor of INFINITUM Squash for organizing the on court component of the Junior Stakes, Ming Tsai for delivering a tasty treat from Blue Dragon for the party on Friday night, and Michael Schlow and Tico for some killer margaritas and tacos at the party on Saturday night.

Thank you to Marliyn Humphries for her excellent photos of the Derby on Friday and Saturday and John Gillooly for his photos of the Junior Stakes on Saturday morning. To see more photos of the events, please visit our Derby and Junior Stakes Flickr albums.

Winter Doesn’t Slow Down SQB

SquashBusters 2019 MFS Derby

 

Join us at the University Club on May 3rd and SquashBusters on May 4th
to watch some great squash for a great cause.
To learn more or support the event, click HERE.

A Historic Squash Season for SQB Boston

While our teams exhibited strong play throughout the season, it was clear both the boys and girls teams saved their best performances for the biggest competitions in high school and urban squash.

High School Team Championships – In early February SquashBusters traveled to Hartford, CT to compete in the High School Squash Team Championships as the representatives of Boston Public Schools.  There were 8 separate boys’ divisions and 6 separate girls’ divisions comprised of more than 200 teams from across the country, making it the world’s largest squash tournament.  Our strong regular seasons (girls 7-2, boys 8-1) earned our girls team a place in Division 3, and our boys team a high seed in Division 4.

Our girls began the weekend with a convincing 6-1 victory over Blair Academy (NJ). Despite falling 4-3 to two seed Westminster School (CT) the next morning in a tightly contested battle, the team recovered quickly and managed to take a 5-2 decision over Episcopal HS (PA) that evening, putting them in the 5th place match against traditional powerhouse Shipley School (PA).  Our girls eked out an intense 4-3 victory over Shipley, placing them 5th in Division 3 and 37th in the country!

Our boys team started the weekend similarly to the girls – with an impressive 6-1 victory over New Haven Public Schools (CT) on Friday.  A second round matchup with Tower Hill School (DE) proved far more testing.  Tied 3-3, Josiah Bennett pulled out the deciding fourth victory to send the team into the semifinals against Westminster School (GA) on Saturday evening.  Our boys once again edged out a close match, taking a 5-2 decision and securing a spot in the finals against Loomis Chaffee School (CT).  The finals had a different feel, as our boys clinched the victory early, and cruised to a 6-1 victory and a Division 4 championship!

Urban Team Nationals –  Next up, the 16th edition of Urban Team Nationals at Yale University and Choate Rosemary Hall, hosted by the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA). Sixteen SEA member programs and 2 international affiliates comprised 14 separate elementary school, middle school, and high school draws.  SquashBusters sent 18 teams composed of 90 Boston, Lawrence, and Providence students to New Haven for 3 intense and fun-filled days of squash.

Entering the tournament, a SquashBusters team had not won an A-division title at Urban Team Nationals since 2016.  However, both the top Boys and Girls high school teams had hopes of changing that, as the girls team received the top seed and the boys were seeded third in the A-draw.

The boys took a decisive 4-1 decision in the first round against SquashDrive (Oakland, CA) before falling in a 3-2 thriller in the semifinal to eventual champion StreetSquash.  The boys rebounded to take 3rd place with a 3-2 victory over SquashSmarts (Philadelphia, PA) the next day.

The top girls team marched to the finals with a 5-0 first-round win and a 4-1 semifinal victory over CitySquash (NY).  This set them up to play StreetSquash in the finals, and the girls pulled through with a 3-2 victory to clinch SQB’s first A-division title since 2016!

SquashBusters’ other high school teams also experienced significant success.  The high school Girls II team won the A-division consolation, and the Girls III team took the B-division title.  The high school Boys II team won the B-division, and the Boys IV team took third in the C-division.

For the majority of students on SquashBusters’ middle school teams, this past weekend marked their first national tournament.  Still, they competed well against their often more-experienced counterparts.  The top boys and girls teams finished seventh in the Middle School A-division, while the Boys III and Girls III teams both finished third in the Middle School C-division.

Beyond success on the court, all the teams represented SquashBusters incredibly well.  Many other teams and spectators commented on our players’ strong sportsmanship and attitude.  And Joelangie Arias Soto and Marangela James took home the top prizes in the middle school and high school divisions of SEA’s annual academic contest. It has been a season to remember, and one of which our program is exceedingly proud.


SquashBusters Lawrence Gets a Permanent Home

A Schematic Rendering by Stack + Co. of the
New SquashBusters Lawrence at Merrimack College

SquashBusters has entered into a formal partnership with Merrimack College to build a rent/maintenance-free facility on the school’s campus. The 16,000 square foot facility will contain eight squash courts, three classrooms, a family resource and college counseling center, locker rooms and staff offices, and cost approximately $4.75 million. New Balance has committed a $2.5 million lead investment to name the facility.

The benefits to partnering with Merrimack College are numerous. Merrimack has agreed to donate the land free of charge, operate the facility at its expense, and assist SquashBusters with transportation. Additionally, Merrimack students will volunteer daily, SquashBusters staff may take graduate courses at discounted rates, and our qualified students will stand an excellent chance of gaining admission and financial assistance. Read Merrimack’s announcement to their community here.

SquashBusters enjoys similar partnerships with Northeastern in Boston and Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I. Both have enabled the program to serve more students, increase program dosage, host junior tournaments, and build a deeper connection to the community. We look forward to the programmatic, educational, and financial benefits of this partnership for years to come.


SquashBusters Runs the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon Team
Gets Ready for a Training Run with the SQB Team

When the starting gun goes off for the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15, SquashBusters will have a 16-person team of athletes joining the 30,000+ runners on their trek from Hopkinton to Boston – a 26.2 mile journey that began many months and many miles ago.  Eight men and eight women have committed to support SquashBusters through a months-long challenge of grueling physical preparation and tireless fundraising to reach their pledged goals of collectively raising over $100,000.

The 16 teammates primarily hail from Massachusetts, but include runners from as far away as Tennessee, Alabama and California.  They range in age from 21 to 57 and include marathon rookies and veterans alike.  All of them feel a passion for or connection to the SquashBusters mission, and all of them have dedicated themselves to putting in hundreds of miles and hours as they work tirelessly towards their goals.  To meet our athletes or support their efforts, check out the SQB Marathon Team website on Crowd Rise. Be on the lookout for our for blue and white SquashBusters singlets and cheer them on along the course!

SquashBusters is deeply grateful not only to these 16 runners, but also to the Boston Athletic Association for this incredible opportunity to raise significant funds that will support our programs in providing life-changing opportunities to our students.  Since the Boston Marathon Charity Program officially launched in 1989, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for nonprofits across Massachusetts and SquashBusters is thrilled to be part of this program in 2019.


The Leaders of Tomorrow

The 2017-2018 SquashBusters
Student Ambassadors

The SquashBusters Student Ambassador Program is a leadership initiative that is at the core of the SquashBusters mission. Composed of 14 high school students, the group meets bi-weekly to discuss the status of the program through their own eyes, plan internal and external events, and provide feedback and suggestions to enhance their experience.

Through their involvement with the Ambassador Program, students learn and practice valuable leadership skills. For instance, the Ambassadors recently led a two-hour event for more than 30 middle school students from three separate Boys and Girls Clubs in Boston.  The SquashBusters students created goals to define what a successful event would look like, planned the run-of-show, divided roles, and practiced and rehearsed over multiple sessions and over multiple days on top of their core commitment to the program. SquashBusters staff were present to supervise, but the Ambassadors led the event flawlessly, greeting the visitors as they arrived, teaching squash, leading relay races, charades and other events, and showing the Boys and Girls Club students what it takes to be a member of a SquashBusters team.

The Ambassadors also play a crucial roles in the SQB program-year kick-off event, the Derby, and seasonal award ceremonies, where they select and celebrate a teammate who exemplifies the I-CARE values that all SquashBusters students strive to live by: Integrity, Concern for others, Appreciation, Respect and Effort.

Most importantly, the Ambassadors are the “culture-keepers” of the SquashBusters Program and embody what makes our community special – people who care deeply about each other and want to create incredible experiences for their teammates.

Breakfast With Champions

 

Tuesday, October 30 marked SquashBusters’ third annual Breakfast with Champions – a day we broke down walls and brought together people from different circumstances, all in the name of improving the SQB program and strengthening our community. SquashBusters Board members and Advisory Council members, alumni and staff, parents and supporters from Boston, Lawrence and Providence came together for a morning of conversation and inspiration as we tackled some of the most pressing issues faced by our students and program graduates: addressing inequities in public K-12 education, identifying obstacles and ensuring success in college, and supporting students on alternative post-secondary paths.

With SquashBusters Board members Meg Campbell and Juma Crawford leading the way, guests shared personal experiences and reflected on how those experiences have driven their own life outcomes. Then they dug into what SQB is doing well and what we could do better to support our students as they reach for success.  Across topics, one common theme emerged: networks.  Groups shared thoughts on the role SQB plays in broadening our students’ networks and providing access to people, organizations and resources to which they may not otherwise have access.

The morning was capped off with remarks from Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell, a true champion for youth development and a fighter for justice, fairness and equality.  Born and raised in Boston with a personal story of strength and resilience through tragic circumstances, Councilor Campbell has dedicated her work – both before and since holding public office – to helping Boston’s families and communities that need it most.  She challenged everyone in the room to not only think about what SquashBusters can do better, but what each of us as individuals can do better. She urged everyone to carry that question with us every day.  Guests left the Breakfast with Champions inspired, motivated and driven to do more, to do better.  This is what makes all of you our Champions.

SquashBusters is grateful to have had so many great minds join us last week, and we are humbled by your grit and determination to continue this work with us.

 

 

 

Discovering Herself in Washington D.C.

Each summer, SquashBusters connects students to life-changing opportunities to travel, learn, and play – including the Urban Squash Citizenship Tour, which several SQB students, staff & alumni recently joined.

sqbers on citizenship tour
Kiara (center right) joined urban squash students and alumni, including Lynette, (second from left, SQB Lawrence ’19) and Amy (second from right, SQB Boston ’14 and current staff member) on the 5th Annual Urban Squash Citizenship Tour.
Urban Squash Citizenship Tour students with Today Show Anchor Al Roker – Kiara is on his right!

The Urban Squash Citizenship Tour, hosted by Squash and Education Alliance (SEA), gives civically-minded and academically-accomplished high school and college students from across the country the opportunity to explore these questions during an 8-day trip that begins in New York City and ends in Washington, DC, with a stop in Philadelphia.

During the trip, students spent time with leaders in government, journalism, education, policy and the nonprofit community; visited sites that have played a part in American history; engaged with local urban squash programs; exercised and practiced at university and urban squash facilities; and promoted SEA’s local member programs and urban squash. Among other highlights, students met with Senator ​Cory Booker​, Senator ​Kirsten Gillibrand, and NBC Today Show Anchor​s Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and ​Willie Geist.

amy and kiara with supporter
Amy and Kiara even ran into Ashley Garrett (SQB Boston ’07) at a reception at Squash on Fire in Washington, D.C.

Over a dozen SquashBusters students and alumni have participated in the Citizenship Tour since it began five years ago. Below, hear from Kiara, SQB Boston ’18, about her experience in Washington, D.C.

Today my Citizenship Tour crew and I toured Washington D.C. For me, it is my first time here. I have never visited any state farther South than Pennsylvania. I enjoyed seeing all of the monuments, beautiful buildings, and the celebrations of the LGBTQ community all over the place. We also visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This particularly is my favorite highlight of the tour so far, because I found a little bit of myself today.

Being from Cape Verde and not knowing a lot about my own history, coming to this museum gave me more insight on it. Before I came to the United States at the age of 6, I did not know what “Black” was or which people were considered “African Americans.” Ever since, I have learned. Visiting this museum and seeing what my people (who I did not even know were my people) went through to achieve everything they have today was inspiring. As an African from Cape Verde, I know about the history of slavery, but I was not as affected by it as the African-Americans living in the United States because I did not have to experience many of the consequences of American slavery.

I have a sense of African pride that some might not have because they do not know much of their history and I realize this privilege I have. Even though I have been learning this history in schools for a decade, today I felt it harder than ever. I felt a connection like never before. I felt proud to be a part of the Black community like never before. Visiting this museum has left me even more inspired to continue the legacy of my ancestors. The museum is a beautiful place that makes the pain of slavery come to life, but also shows the beauty in the struggle. Through the struggle of enslavement to becoming free, the beauty of our culture was revealed through music and dance (one of the ways I connected because of the popularity of music and dance in Cape Verde) and so much more.

Experiencing this with my friends was also really amazing to me. I could not have gone through this painful but inspiring experience without their support. This tour has been really essential for me because it has given me the opportunity to connect with other young people who share my interest in changing the world. They are truly so bright and motivated. Sharing this experience with these individuals has been one of the best things I have done in my life.

To all my brothers and sisters, continue to discover yourselves too,

Kiara

Originally published on the Urban Squash Citizenship Tour Blog.

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

sqbboston-2018
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.

KIARA BATISTA – UMass Amherst
HEYSSIS CASTILLO – Trinity College
CHRISTINA DIXON – Northeastern University
YVONNE DUNKLEY – Babson College
ELIAS GONZALEZ – Foundation Year at Northeastern University
IMANE HOUSSA – UMass Boston
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
PABLO RODRIGUEZ – UMass Boston
KARYME VELIZ-GOMEZ – UMass Boston
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
NELSMARIE MATOS ARROYO– Boston College
LOSANGELA BATISTA – St. Lawrence University
AARON COSS – Bentley University
KEVEN DEPINA – Bates College
LISA IMAFIDON – UMass Amherst
ALÉJANDRA MADRID – Mass. Bay Community College
ANTENEH MEKONNEN – Roger Williams University
CRISTIAN LOPEZ – UMass Amherst
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.

SEA Alumni Nationals

alumni nationals

Join urban squash alumni from all over at the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA)’s Alumni Nationals 2018. . This year’s tournament will be held at StreetSquash Harlem in New York.

Schedule of Events

Friday, August 3 — 6 — 8pm Hit-around & Alumni Welcome Dinner/Some matches begin.
Saturday, August 4 — 8:30am — 7:30pm Tournament matches run throughout the day. Midday break in play for Award Ceremony and breakout sessions.
Sunday, August 5 — 10am — 2pm Final matches

Please note that this year’s tournament will be an individuals format. All squash-related questions should be directed to Edgardo Gonzalez, Senior Squash Director at StreetSquash and CitySquash ’09.

To sign up for Alumni Nationals, please fill out this Google form.

Also, a heads up that alumni are responsible for:

  • $15 entry fee — after submitting the entry form later this month, payment may be made using the SEA program payment site and selecting “Urban Squash Alumni Nationals” in the drop-down menu.
  • Transportation and housing to attend the weekend. SEA will reimburse up to $100 or 50% of airfare (whichever is less) for alumni traveling from locations that are further than 5 hours away by car or bus.
  • SEA will provide dinner on Friday; breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday; and breakfast on Sunday.

Urban Midwest Championships

students at kenyon

Photo courtesy of the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA).

The Squash and Education Alliance’s Midwest Championships take place every summer at Kenyon College. SquashBusters students from Boston, Lawrence and Providence will road-trip to Ohio for the tournament.

Learn more.