Dear US Squash Supporter,
Thank you so much for your contributions to the US Squash. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we rely on the commitment of our supporters for 20% of our budget each year. This backing allows us to invest in innovation and drive growth in the sport. We are the only country that does not receive any government support, and we’re proud of what we have achieved.
Our teams compete with the best in the world with grace and class, and squash has grown in the U.S. more than 100% in the last five years. Unfortunately we are currently one of only a few countries in the world where the sport is actually growing, making our work that much more significant.
While we are already deep into the season, I still wanted to touch on some of our accomplishments through the summer and into the fall, which happen to connect to several major programs and events.
SUMMER ELITE PROGRAMS
The most active US Squash programming in the summer is our elite development programming. Our summer kicked off the last weekend in June with the third edition of our Regional Team Championships bringing together nearly 200 top junior players to represent their Region. This is the culminating weekend of friendly competition for Regional Squads, which meet and train together several times throughout the season with our more than 30 Regional Coaches.
We followed this up in July with the launch of the US Squash Academy, gathering the best U.S. juniors, collegiate and post-collegiate players together for two weeks of extensive training. Many of the younger players then also went on to compete in the Canadian-American Challenge in early August, and our oldest juniors competed in the World Junior Championships with fantastic results summarized below.
Our Elite Athlete Program (EAP) program, which hires our top ranked full time professionals and provides them extensive financial and logistical support, has also had the desired effect of pulling our best athletes closer to the organization. In fact, several of them now serve on the US Squash Board of Directors as USOC Athlete Representatives.
For the first time in our history, we have an end to end US Squash elite development program.
WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
At the Worlds in August, our Junior Men defeated France (the #3 seeds) to earn our boys’ first berth ever in a world semifinal (our girls have finished 2nd each of the last three Worlds). The commitment demonstrated by the coaches and players, to one another, really captures the grit, perseverance, positive culture, and spirit of coming together that we emphasize as core values in the program. What I am most proud of however, is that nearly every other coach commented on our boys’ heart and sportsmanship during the competition. They were by far the best behaved group there, and were a credit to US Squash and their families.
Building and feeding our development pipeline is key for the long-term performance of Team USA, and it’s great to see measurable progress. Congratulations to the players, and coaches as well including Head Junior Coach Adam Hamill and Assistant Coach Alex Stait, along with our Ganek Family U.S. Head National Coach Paul Assaiante and National Team Director Rich Wade.
PAN AMERICAN SQUASH CHAMPIONSHIPS
For the first-time ever we hosted both the junior (at Drexel University in August) and senior (at Trinity College in September) Pan American Squash Federation Championships. These events provided excellent relationship building opportunities, and demonstrated our strong support for squash in the region. We won the two adult team competitions, the junior women’s team event, and California junior star Mariam Kamal won both the junior women’s and senior women’s individual golds.
While our governance reform proposals to the Pan American Squash Federation were largely defeated at the Annual General Meeting, which were also hosted at the Championships, progress is being made as we continue to build more collaborative connections with our peers in Central and South America.
The Delaware Investments U.S. Open took place for the 6th time at Drexel University this October. We are proud that the U.S. Open was the first World Series event to offer full parity in prize money for women and men, and that most World Series events have followed in recent years. Appropriately, the PSA Tour has also elevated the goal of full parity on the tour to be #1 on the list.
This year’s U.S. Open concluded with a great women’s final with Camille Serme from France earning her first World Series title, and World #1 Mohammed Elshorbagy of Egypt winning the men’s title. The matches were sold out, we were literally turning people away at the door – certainly a milestone for US Squash given the venue accommodates more than 1, 000 spectators. In addition to making the ESPN Top 10 Plays of the Night, highlights appeared on 15 other international channels and the figures on the digital media impact are impressive with tens of millions of impressions on Facebook, twitter and in other social media.
Other competitions are wrapped around the 10-day U.S. Open too. The first weekend we hosted the Arlen Specter Junior Squash Championships with our most competitive draws yet, with no player competing ranked beyond the 50’s, and we saw an increase in the size of the Intercollegiate Doubles Nationals draws too. The closing weekend we hosted the most successful US Squash Skill Level Championships.
US Squash also uses the spotlight on the U.S. Open to highlight excellence in other areas as well. Shabana Khan received the US Squash Brauns Award for her administrative contributions, including serving as a PSA Board member and hosting the 2015 World Championships in Bellevue, WA. Bill Lane received the local Philadelphia District Service Award, and was honored over the weekend. A record number of Scholar-Athletes received appropriate recognition on court Columbus Day Weekend and we honored Geoff Mitchell with the USOC National Coach of the Year Award. We honored Maria Toorpakai, now an international sports celebrity, with the President’s Cup.
Richard Chin with the Robert Callahan Sportsmanship Award, and Michael Gough with the A. Carter Fergusson Honor Roll, with Carter sitting in the front row. On Friday, we inducted Ganek Family U.S. Head National Coach Paul Assaiante, Norm Brammall and Jane Stauffer into the US Squash Hall of Fame.
Our deepest thanks go to John Fry, recent past Chairman of US Squash and current President of Drexel University for even making the event possible. For the U.S. Open and all of our programming, the US Squash staff continues to go above and beyond to deliver excellence. It’s humbling to be associated with them and have the opportunity to lead them.
As we look towards entering the heart of the season, with adult leagues in more than a dozen cities involving 10, 000 players, this December’s U.S. Junior Open Squash Championships attracting 1, 000 juniors from more than 30 countries, and a dozen other national championships including the U.S. High School and Middle School Championships right around the corner, we are looking forward to this brief pause, and take this opportunity to wish you the best for this Thanksgiving holiday, and again, to thank you for all of your support.