Now in its seventh year, the 2019 SquashBusters MashUp presented by Anbaric raised a record setting total of $420,000 on Sunday, December 8, thanks to the incredible generosity of over 700 squash-friendly supporters in the Merrimack Valley, Boston and New England and corporate sponsors Brown Brothers Harriman, Floyd Advisory, Newmark Knight Frank, Westfield Capital Management, Bank of New England, Ipswich Bay Glass, Plymouth REIT, and Uberdoc. The event comes at an important juncture, as SquashBusters Lawrence is on the verge of breaking ground on a permanent home in partnership with Merrimack College.
The 2019 MashUp enjoyed two flights of platform tennis once again at North Andover Country Club, and a full afternoon of squash, hospitality, and presentations for the first time at the beautiful new, 12-court Palfrey Pavilion in the Snyder Center at Phillips Academy Andover. Special thanks goes out to the Karlen family for encouraging Andover to host the MashUp and to Doug Burbank and Brooks School for being gracious hosts for the past six fabulous years.
More than 150 players, guests, sponsors and friends filled the venues. The crowd was treated to a moving set of remarks by SQB Lawrence senior Arianny Acosta, who has applied early to Yale University. This poised, energetic and well-spoken young woman bowled over the packed audience with her remarks, insight, and humor. Over at the platform tennis courts, an equally inspiring story was shared by Leo Mirabal, who is hoping to enroll at Merrimack in the fall.
All four 18-player teams that convened for the celebration and friendly competition were led by an elite squash pro and two platform pros. Seven amateurs, Brooks and PA students and SQB students rounded out the teams.
USA No. 1 squash player Todd Harrity and paddle stars Johan du Randt and Bill Power headed captain Jon Karlen’s Andover Academics.
Current New Zealand No. 2 squash star Campbell Grayson, and paddle pros Ramon Rodriguez and Tim Stonecipher led captain Bruce Landay’s and Bill Paine’s Merrimack Volley.
American squash star Chris Hanson, currently No. 65 on the PSA World Tour, and paddle pros Leo Power and Scott Staniar helmed captain Henry White’s Essex County Nicks.
Arthur Gaskin, Ireland No. 1 and head pro at Nicol Squash Club at SQB Providence, and paddle pros Admire Mushonga and Scott Slobin took the reins of captain John Manning’s Lawrence Legion.
After two waves of brisk platform tennis and three hours of spirited squash, four-time champions Andover Academics retained the podium with a convincing 50 point score, outdistancing second-place finisher Essex County Nicks by a whopping 17 points. Kiwi Campbell Grayson defeated American Chris Hanson in the Pro final 2-0.
After bestowing the 2019 Golden Mill award for a top team fundraising total of $89,000 to Volley Captains Landay and Paine, SquashBusters Founder and Executive Director Greg Zaff concluded the day by reminding guests and players about the value of saying “yes”. “We ask,” he said, “But you don’t have to say yes…and many don’t. But we are here and moving forward because so many of you do. Thank you.”
To see more photos of the day, visit our Flickr album.
SQB Class of 2026 Is Almost Here
The recruitment process started in early September, when SquashBusters staff introduced themselves and the game of squash to over 200 students at the Arlington and Wetherbee Middle Schools during gym class. Since then, the group has been narrowed to 21 committed and enthusiastic students. They have all been attending practices at Brooks School twice a week with the goal of becoming full time members of the SQB team. We’re looking forward to final decisions being announced just before winter break at our 6th grade potluck event to welcome our newest members to the team!
In addition to the typical middle school recruitment process, twelve high school students from Notre Dame Cristo Rey have been working hard on court and in the classroom in a bid to join the program. These additional students have helped to further reinforce growing ties between SquashBusters and Notre Dame, one of our strongest partner schools. We’re thrilled to be able to welcome more students on the high school team and eager to integrate their strengths into our already thriving program!
SQB in the Community
SquashBusters Lawrence has been all around the city this fall, participating in five different community service projects during the first few months of programming. Middle-schoolers took advantage of the nice weather at the beginning of the year to help pick vegetables at Costello Park, an urban farm that provides fresh produce to local soup kitchens and food pantries. Students remarked that they enjoyed “getting their hands dirty” and were thrilled to be able to take some of the vegetables home with them.
Another project of note was the Spicket River Clean Up – a full program effort in which 60 students volunteered to help keep the local waterway clean. Not only was this an opportunity to help make an impact in our own community, but also a chance to get nearly the full team together to kick off another great year at SQB. The day was a resounding success and many left excited to find more opportunities to keep the city looking beautiful!
Squash Season Begins
Two regional Squash and Education Alliance (SEA) tournaments served as highlights for our fall squash calendar. The SEA Northeast Regionals, hosted at Yale University, was a tremendous opportunity for players to compete against some of the very best players in New England. The high school boys and girls teams both competed in the A draw. Though neither team walked away from the weekend with a victory, they were thrilled to be part of the tournament. Several players did secure a individual victories. The middle school teams enjoyed a little more success, with the middle school boys being denied first place in their division only by their teammates from Providence.
The second tournament, hosted by Capitol Squash at Trinity College, was an opportunity for many of our youngest players to take part in their first big tournament. An intrepid crew of 10 seventh graders traveled to Connecticut to compete in the Middle School Northeast Team Regional tournament. The students again competed hard and were thrilled to be able to enjoy a day with teammates from the other two SquashBusters sites and to be able make new friends from other Urban Squash programs from across the region. These two tournaments undoubtedly gave our students the experience and confidence to find success in the upcoming months to come!
Our Dream Comes True – A Home for SquashBusters Lawrence
Sometime next spring, SquashBusters Lawrence will break ground on its new home – our own facility being built on the campus of Merrimack College. This partnership with Merrimack mirrors the relationships we have in Boston with Northeastern and in Providence with Moses Brown School. SquashBusters will raise the construction capital in return for a rent-free, maintenance-free home for the next 100 years. To say this is a total game-changer for our program and for the City of Lawrence is an understatement. The facility will stand as a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations of Lawrence students. It will unite the broader community, inspire civic engagement, and profoundly contribute to Merrimack College and the entire Merrimack Valley.
Merrimack College President Chris Hopey and Executive Vice President Jeff Doggett quickly embraced the chance to partner with SquashBusters. Having both formerly worked in senior positions at Northeastern, they have seen first-hand the impact our partnership has had in Boston. Our first ‘get-to-know’ you meeting between Merrimack and SquashBusters was memorable. Not five minutes into the conversation, President Hopey jumped in, “No need for the big sales pitch. I’ve seen SquashBusters do amazing things in Boston. We’re in! What’s the next step?”
The next step was to design the facility – an important job bestowed upon the very talented STACK + Co. Schematic design is nearly finished. SquashBusters Lawrence’s 17,000 square-foot home will have eight squash courts, 3 classrooms, a college and career center, a family resource room, a fitness center, private space for one-on-one counseling, changing rooms, and offices. SquashBusters will also engage a world-class squash professional to operate a full-scale squash club, complete with memberships, lessons and summer camps. In return for this opportunity, the pro will contribute a percentage of his earnings to SquashBusters and will team up with our squash staff to help our students become great players.
Crazy, ambitious projects like this often happen because of one phenomenally generous contributor. Here, that honor goes to the New Balance Foundation, which has pledged to make the leadership gift. Such a gift is the strongest testament to the Foundation’s belief in the good work of SquashBusters and its deep commitment to improving the lives of Lawrence young people. SquashBusters is beyond grateful to the New Balance Foundation for this transformative investment and we look forward to celebrating the grand opening of the New Balance Foundation SquashBusters Center at Merrimack College in the spring of 2021.
A Year of Highlights on Court…
The 2018-2019 season was the most active in the history of the Lawrence program, with students participating in 39 competitions spanning New England and beyond. From overnight urban squash tournaments to friendly matches against our teammates in Boston and Providence, the year was packed with highlights on court.
Urban Squash Team Nationals, this year hosted by Yale University and Choate Rosemary Hall, yielded a slew of exciting results for the SquashBusters teams. There were not one, but two National Championship winning teams on the girls side: Sarai, Tatiana, and June were all members of the SQB team that finished first in the Girls High School B Division, while Winipher became the first ever SquashBusters Lawrence A-draw national champion. Not to be outdone, Anthony G. helped steer his team to a High School Boys B-draw first place finish from the number 1 position on his team’s ladder.
This was also the first year SquashBusters Lawrence hosted our very own alumni match. A combination of current middle and high school students, volunteers, teachers, and parents gathered at Brooks School to watch the most recent class of SquashBusters graduates compete in one final match. Sporting shirts from the colleges they will be attending this coming fall, the graduated seniors competed against a combination of staff and alumni in a series of friendly matches to wrap up their squash careers. After an afternoon of great squash on court, the group gathered outside for a buffet dinner and connected over some of their favorite SQB memories.
One of the most exciting moments of the year arrived at Urban Individual Nationals – the final competition of the year. Eighth-grader Grismerly not only finished the weekend as the GU17 B-draw consolation runner up, defeating several high school-aged opponents along the way, but she also won the Squash and Education Alliance Future Star Award. Grismerly is the first student from Lawrence to ever win the award, which recognizes one middle school student from among all SEA organizations for strong character and commitment to their program.
SquashBusters will be sending many students to various overnight squash opportunities throughout the summer, hopefully setting us up for another year of success on court!
…and in the Classroom for SQB Lawrence
For the second year in a row, all SQB Lawrence seniors have post-secondary plans. Thanks to a great deal of hard work, perseverance and support from Mike Shannon, Director of Post-Secondary Services and individual college mentors, here is what our seniors will be doing next year –
Northern Essex Community College
Military (Spring Enrollment at Northern Essex Community College)
UMass – Lowell
UMass – Lowell
UMass – Lowell
Northern Essex Community College
UMass – Lowell
UMass – Lowell
Lawrence Gets Out and Gives Back!
Once again, SquashBusters participated in dozens of community service trips throughout the year, seeking to learn more about local organizations and support their efforts within Greater Lawrence. Highlights included:
Though Lawrence suffered from devastating gas explosions at the beginning of the school year, the community responded admirably by coming together in the city’s time of need. Students and staff from SquashBusters gathered at Arlington Middle School to offer support to the families without homes or power and lend a helping hand during the crisis. Though many of our own families spent months without power and out of their homes, the community proved more resilient than ever.
We spent a day collecting and organizing donations at Debbie’s Treasure Chest, an organization dedicated to providing clothing, books, toiletries, school supplies and other necessities to at-risk families in the area.
The high school team spent several hours volunteering at Lazarus House, a shelter in Lawrence offering nourishment, comfort, and stability to those in need. Students helped organize donations and clean the building.
Both middle and high school students spent several days working at Costello Urban Farm, part of the Costello Community Garden organized by Groundwork Lawrence. The space is dedicated to leading local environmental and healthy community initiatives, and students helped plant all manner of fruits and vegetables throughout the spring.
Students made several trips throughout the year to Nevin’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. We spent the afternoons playing games, setting up meals, telling stories and bonding with senior members of the Merrimack Valley.
Several of our students have continued their work into the summer, working with Groundwork Lawrence throughout July and August. As we head into next year, we continue to search for ways in which to make a meaningful impact through various local organizations in the Merrimack Valley.
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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.
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 Anchors Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and Willie Geist.
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,
In its sixth year, SquashBusters Lawrence is fully grown with nearly 100 students in grades 6-12 and our very first graduates are college-bound – setting the stage for future success in classes to come.
First SquashBusters Lawrence Class is College-Bound
2018 was a special year for SquashBusters Lawrence, as it marked the graduation of six students from the program’s first-ever class of recruits. The college acceptances received by these seniors were a direct result of years of commitment and dedication to their goal of a college education.
Building on the numerous college visits that students completed through their first five years in the program, and intensive SAT tutoring that each student received weekly during their junior year, each rising senior made multiple trips to the SquashBusters office during the 2017-2018 program year to continue their work on the college process. Extra time in the office was spent working on financial aid applications, essays, further research on different schools and more SAT practice tests. The fall months also offered the opportunity for additional college visits – many of which were crucial when it came time to make a decision later in the school year.
One of the most memorable moments of their senior year came during a December practice when, in a ceremony adapted from the Boston program, seniors read their college essays to the younger SQB students. The occasion not only allowed the oldest students on the team to share their personal stories with the rest of their teammates, but also gave all students in attendance a glimpse into the hard work required to succeed in high school. All in attendance, including middle schoolers, staff, and volunteers, were moved by the honesty and openness of the essays.
With the help of student mentors from Merrimack College as well as the SQB Staff – especially Post-Secondary Access & Success Program Coordinator Mike Shannon – every senior is poised for success for the next four years and beyond with a college choice that is a good fit academically and financially.
The SquashBusters Lawrence class of 2018 will be attending the following schools:
JEREMY DEL ROSARIO –Northern Essex Community College
BENITO DERAS – Bridgewater State University
ASHLEY FLORES – UMass Lowell
ANTAR JIMENEZ JR. – Babson College
KATHERINE LEIVA – St. Lawrence University
JIBERLY SANDOVAL – Dickinson College
Lawrence Program Readies for its Busiest Summer Yet!
Though schools are on vacation during the summer months, our students will remain active through dozens of summer programs and opportunities made available to them through SquashBusters. Whether they are stimulating their intellectual curiosity in the classroom, honing their squash skills on court, or spending the summer outdoors and sleeping in log cabins, dozens of SQB Lawrence students will be making the most of their time off from school at a variety of day and sleepaway camps.
This summer, SquashBusters Lawrence has connected students to the following opportunities:
- Academic enrichment programming like Exeter Summer at Phillips Exeter Academy and Phillips Academy Andover Summer Session, opportunities coordinated in conjunction with the Squash + Education Alliance.
- Improving their squash skills at numerous camps across New England like Peter Nicol Squash Academy at Amherst College, Premier Performance Squash Camp at Wesleyan University, Williams College’s Squash and Beyond Camp, Hansi Wiens Squash Camps at Dartmouth, and SEA Squash Squads at Deerfield Academy.
- Days and nights spent in the wilderness at several of the YMCA’s day and overnight camps in New Hampshire – Camp Lawrence, Camp Nokomis, and Camp Otter – as well as the West End House Girls Camp in Maine, and Camp Waban in Canada.
- Road tripping and sight-seeing our way from Lawrence to the Urban Squash Midwest Regionals at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
- Learning about careers in government and public service through SEA’s Citizenship Tour. The eight day trip will pass through New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. where participants will meet leaders in politics and media. Past panelists have included U.S. Senator Corey Booker, NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt, and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.
In addition the these external programs, students remaining in Lawrence will have the opportunity to stay involved with SquashBusters through our own summer programming and squash squads through the month of July on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover. These sessions will be comprised of team building activities, team trips, and an excursion to our sister program in Providence, as well as two weeks of intensive squash training. This allows students the opportunity to remain engaged with the program as well as benefit from many of the positive aspects of summer camps while staying close to home. To learn more about our middle school summer programming, click here!
Furthermore, rising seniors will participate in multiple college prep sessions where they will get a jump start on applications, essays, as well as further SAT tutoring before the start of their final year of high school.
Huge thanks to Essex County Community Foundation for supporting our internal summer programs at SQB Lawrence!
A Whirlwind Year of Squash
The 2017-2018 year was the busiest ever in terms of squash competitions for our students here in Lawrence. Over the course of the year, we participated in 24 matches and 14 tournaments, travelling to seven states for numerous day trips and weekend overnights.
Though each competition had its own individual triumphs, there were a few moments in particular that stood out among a year of on-court achievement for SquashBusters Lawrence.
In the first-ever StreetSquash match consisting of players from four different program sites (Boston and Lawrence for SquashBusters, Harlem and Newark for StreetSquash) SquashBusters emerged victorious in a thrilling affair. The 19th iteration of this friendly competition pitted the top fourteen male and female players from the two programs and drew a crowd to watch the day of squash at Yale University. Thirteen high schoolers from Lawrence competed and were proud to make sure the trophy returned to Massachusetts for the third straight year.
We continued our strong relationship with Portland Community Squash, with four matches throughout the winter months. One of these excursions was the first-ever squash match (and first-ever trip to Maine!) for many of our first-year students. Portland and Lawrence students helped each other through serving, rallying, and scoring before sharing pizzas after a great day on court.
The high school team also continued its tradition of facing off against St. Paul’s School – a duel which not only pits our top players against the JV teams of one of the strongest high school programs in the region, but also sees SQB Lawrence coach Darryl Soto face off against his old SquashBusters coach, Chris Smith. This matchup marked the first time an SQB team got the better of these particular opponents, with the Lawrence girls narrowly edging the St. Paul’s girls 8-6, before the whole group headed back to Lawrence for a team dinner.
SquashBusters Lawrence also had several exciting individual results from the multitude of tournaments attended – including 11th grader Winipher Romero winning the GU17 A Draw at Urban Individual Regionals, and 8th Grader Julissa Morales taking home the top spot in the GU15 B draw at Urban Individual Nationals.
Still to come this summer, students can look forward to squash time during our summer programming sessions at Phillips Academy, as well as two weeks of intensive squash squads for our most motivated students looking for a leg-up before the start of the new year in September. Also, a group of nine intrepid high schoolers and three staff will be road tripping to Kenyon University in Gambier, OH for the Midwest Urban Squash Regionals.
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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.
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.
SquashBusters Lawrence offers middle school students the chance to participate in 1-2 weeks of summer enrichment activities including squash practice, creative arts, team building time, and field trips. This year’s middle school summer programming will take place from July 2 to July 13.
We also offer two weeks of intensive squash programming called “Squash Squads.” During these weeks, SquashBusters squash coaches will run intensive squash training sessions, which provide students with individual attention and feedback. The high school squad will be held from July 17-20, and the middle school squad will take place July 17-19 and 24-27.
In a fantastic interview with Hilary Sargent, SquashBusters founder and CEO Greg Zaff talked about the history of the program, how it has grown from a program serving 24 kids using borrowed courts and classrooms, and how urban squash became a worldwide movement that has served over 2000 youth since it began twenty years ago.