With its ribbon cutting Friday afternoon in the presence of Chicago’s civic leaders, including Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, the MetroSquash Academic & Squash Center opens its doors to the present and future of Chicago’s urban youth.
Located in the Woodlawn neighborhood, the 21, 000 square-foot facility is the largest of its kind in the Midwest, boasting seven singles courts, one doubles court, four classrooms, office space, locker rooms and a parent lounge.
On the heels of urban squash’s recent celebration of twenty years, the opening of the MetroSquash Center continues the National Urban Squash and Education Association’s vision to enhance lives through squash and education in communities of need. This is the fourth stand-alone urban project supporting both academic and athletic activities in a safe, after-school setting.
MetroSquash will be the first urban facility to host a world championship from May 6-10 when the 2015 J.P Morgan and Trunk Club World Doubles bring the top-ranked players to the world-class site. A one-of-a-kind singles court with an all-glass front wall displays new accessibility to the sport to passersby.
“Needless to say the excitement of our grand opening is only exceeded by the fact that our programs will be doubling in size, and that MetroSquash has a home which serves all of our needs on the court and in the classroom, “ said David Kay, Executive Director of MetroSquash.
MetroSsquash was established in 2005 and began its operations in conjunction with the University of Chicago. A Junior Silver Championships and a community open house, Saturday, April 25, from 11am – 2pm are the inaugural events marking the official opening of MetroSquash.
“From the beginning of the MetroSquash journey over ten years ago, having a home facility was always the dream we all wanted to see come true, ” said Conor O’Malley, current Vice President US Squash Partnerships and founder of MetroSquash. “But the foundation built over the past decade of donors, staff, volunteers, families, and, most importantly, the students, is already the dream come true. The opening of the new center is a powerful reminder of what any community can accomplish when they get behind a shared vision.”
The center hosts its inaugural tournament this weekend—a junior silver tournament—following the ribbon cutting, and a community open house, Saturday from 11am-2pm. The hardball doubles court will then serve as a host facility for the World Doubles May 6-10.
“The MetroSquash program has always been close to our hearts at US Squash, ” said US Squash CEO Kevin Klipstein. “More so since its founder, Conor O’Malley, works here. David Kay has done an incredible job over the last decade building community support and guiding his Board to achieve this major milestone. The center is really well positioned to help transform the community.”
In 2003, Boston’s SquashBusters became the first urban program to open its own youth center in coordination with Northeastern University. The facility, which includes eight squash courts and four classrooms, allowed SquashBusters to triple its enrollment and provide a growing number of alumni with a place to reconnect, setting the standard for urban squash facilities.
In 2007, Philadelphia’s SquashSmarts, with the support of the H. Chase Lenfest Foundation, built a 52, 000 square-foot facility with a basketball court, dance studio, computer lab, library, game room, catering kitchen, several classrooms and eight squash singles courts.
In 2008, over 400 people gathered for the grand opening of the S.L. Green StreetSquash Center in Harlem, including then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President. During a rousing opening speech, Clinton emphasized the importance of after school programs and the need for everyone to pitch in and make a difference.
Chicago’s new home for MetroSquash will make a difference, fulfilling its mission to engage underserved Chicago youth through academic support, squash and wellness, mentoring, enrichment, and community service to develop high school ready middle schoolers, college ready high schoolers, and career ready adults.
For more information, visit www.metrosquash.org.