As the national high school squash community laments the weather-induced cancellation of the 2013 US High School Team Squash Championships, the west coast squash community looks back upon the completion of the Southern California High School Squash League’s inaugural season.
The first season involved 8 teams with more than 40 players, a result of over four years of building the high school squash communities in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego, three squash markets that have been – until recent years – under-represented at a national high school level.
A banquet was held to celebrate a successful first season — won by Access Youth Academy, which was largely due to the efforts of three coaches: J.P. Rothie of Los Angeles, Renato Paiva of San Diego, and Tim Thomas of Santa Barbara.
Rothie characterized the first season as inclusive, with an emphasis on future growth.
“New and old teams came together in a league that has never existed,” Rothie said. “We had new players learn squash and meet new friends, and old teams that operated independently for many years given the opportunity to connect with fellow peers from the Southern California area.”
“The league drove the growth for squash, and that inspires me to believe in the potential for the game to grow significantly amongst juniors in Southern California.”
Paiva said the league would expect more teams and more matches with a few schools having already shown interest in joining the league’s second season, and was encouraged by the team feeling among players.
“Playing for your school is something that these kids have not experienced until now,” Paiva said. “They competed, supported each other and made this first year of the Southern California High School league very exciting.”
Rothie’s home city of Los Angeles alone has added two new school programs as well as Angel Squash, a 501 c3 non-profit founded in 2012, headquartered at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, which has started to recruit and train a new generation of inner city youth squash players.
In Southern California, the future of squash is bright.