Article courtesy of Loveland Magazine.
When Neal Tew of Loveland opened a 12, 000 square foot squash facility, in Fairfax in January 2013, he had a vision. He wanted to create a viable model to introduce this new sport to youth throughout Cincinnati and to build a regional center of excellence for junior squash.
Fast-forward to 2015, and this Cincinnati native, a lifelong squash enthusiast, entrepreneur and former captain of the Harvard Squash Team, has done exactly what he set out to do.
Says Tew, “We recently entered into a long-term partnership with The Cincinnati Sports Club (CSC). As our new operating partner, the CSC brings industry experience and expertise that will free our coaching staff to focus on what they do best: teaching the game of squash and the life lessons that go with it. The T is an Academy focused on impacting young lives through engagement with a great life sport. We’re thrilled to have the Sports Club’s strength and expertise behind us.”
He adds, “The relationship also expands our squash facilities. The T has five squash courts, and the CSC has three. Combined, our eight courts make us the largest squash facility in the Midwest, with space to add four more. The arrangement positions us to be a leader as squash grows in the Cincinnati area. In fact, The T has been selected to host the 2016 Midwest Junior Squash Championships, a further testament to our excellent reputation on both a regional and national level.”
In another milestone, The T recently received their 501(c)(3) status, which enables them to receive grants from local partners and reach a greater number of children and schools in their community.
“This will fuel the good growth that is already happening at The T. In 2014, for example, our programming reached more than 130 boys and girls, from ages 5-16 from fifteen area public and private schools, (including St. Margaret of York, St. Columban, Loveland Early Childhood Center, Walnut Hills, Sycamore and Indian Hill), as well as children from across the Midwest. Most children participate in weekly instructional clinics and league play, while others travel from outside of Cincinnati to compete in our regional tournaments.
Local children love the idea of spearheading a club squash team at their school. Walnut Hills and Indian Hill schools are good recent examples of the process: parent and child bring the idea to administrators, Tew and his team make a presentation, the school backs the idea of a parent-led club team, kids enroll in The T and they are off to the races. “The only way to make a club squash team happen is to ask!” Tew notes. “Lacrosse got its start in Cincinnati with small club teams. With a facility like The T ready to welcome squash teams, we can follow the same pattern.”
Tew adds, “Regional tournaments are a different approach. We want our children to know what squash at a higher level looks like. We host regional tournaments on a quarterly basis so our more experienced players can observe and compete against the best players in the region. This sparks their competitive spirit and fuels their drive to improve.” Those who really catch the squash bug may join The T Spartans, a group of fifteen students who compete in tournaments throughout the Midwest. One of these students, Tew’s son John Paul (a rising 6th grader at St. Margaret’s), won the 2014 Boys U11 National Championship, a major milestone for Cincinnati squash.
One of the things Tew loves most about squash is the relational dimension of the game. “Squash is a life sport and a family sport, ” he says, “something parents and kids can enjoy playing together for many years. At a program like ours, it’s never too late to learn squash. We have something for just about every level.”
Visit www.tsquashacademy.org for more information.