Report courtesy of NUSEA.
On the evening of May 18, supporters of US Squash, NUSEA and the country’s urban squash programs gathered together to honor William E. Simon, Jr. who is stepping down as NUSEA’s Founding Board Chair after eleven years in the role. A former star on the Williams College squash team, Simon has been instrumental to the growth of urban squash from its inception with Boston’s SquashBusters and has aided the expansion of urban squash to include an umbrella organization that oversees eighteen programs in the United States and four abroad.
Unbeknownst to Simon, NUSEA’s Board of Directors presented Simon with the William E. Simon Leadership Award, which will annually grant an urban squash student graduating from college the opportunity to a take a service trip to one of NUSEA’s international affiliates. Simon has gotten involved at every level of urban squash, from overseeing the fundraising of the SquashBusters’ facility, to getting on court last month with children at Squash Urbano Colombia, in Cartagena, Colombia. It was his philanthropic and adventurous spirit that inspired the NUSEA board to create this specific award.
Simon’s reputation for kindness and generosity preceded him as the University Club room filled with people. NUSEA board members Richard Braddock, Brooke Cooper, J.D. Cregan, William Gaynor, Abby Markoe, Charles Parkhurst, Kit Tatum, Greg Zaff, Board Chair Elect Amrit Kanwal, and US Squash Executive Director Kevin Klipstein attended the event. Alumni from urban squash programs StreetSquash, SquashSmarts, Impact360, and CitySquash also attended the celebration. “I was inspired by how much passion Bill has for urban squash, ” StreetSquash alumna Jazmin Matos said after the event.
Greg Zaff, the founder and CEO of SquashBusters and co-founder of NUSEA, spoke of the first meeting he had about SquashBusters with Simon over a deli sandwich. At the time, Simon told Zaff, “If you decide someday to make this national, let me know if I can help.” Almost a decade later after that meeting, Zaff and the leaders of the nation’s other urban squash programs, StreetSquash’s George Polsky, SquashSmarts’ Steve Gregg, and CitySquash’s Tim Wyant, all came together to form NUSEA. Without hesitation, Zaff called Simon, and in a matter of minutes, they had a Chair.
Since then, Simon has led NUSEA with unbridled determination and optimism, taking NUSEA from an organization with four member programs to an umbrella program that supports 18 member programs nationally and 4 international affiliates. His efforts kept NUSEA going when NUSEA’s leadership transitioned from Zaff’s oversight to Wyant’s, and people were not even sure if the umbrella organization could keep growing. While NUSEA will dearly miss Simon, the organization is excited to welcome Amrit Kanwal as their new Board Chair. A former member of the SquashBusters Board of Directors, Kanwal is sure to bring the same level of enthusiasm and expertise as his predecessor.