The biggest ever Urban Team Nationals tournament will commence Friday in Boston, involving 74 teams – a National Urban Squash and Education Association (NUSEA) record.
Nearly 400 students from ten different urban squash programs across the country make up the five-player teams, which are spread amongst under 13, 15, 17, and 19 age divisions.
“Put the squash aside, and this event has so much more – some kids will be flying for the first time, some kids have never been to Boston, staying up late in a hotel, long bus trips, and even the Boston kids feeling a sense of pride as they welcome kids from all over into their city and their building, ” he said.
Programs involved include StreetSquash (Harlem, NY, Newark, NJ), SquashBusters (Boston, Lawrence, MA), CitySquash (Bronx, NY), Squash Haven (New Haven, CT), SquashWise (Baltimore, MD), Access Youth Academy (San Diego, CA), Racquet Up (Detroit, MI), METROsquash (Chicago, IL), Mile High Squash (Denver, CO), and SquashSmarts (Philadelphia, PA).
“There is nothing more exciting than team squash at any level. The mini rivalries come out in this event every year and they are awesome to watch. It might be NY vs. Boston, Bronx vs. Harlem, West Coast vs. East Coast, South Side vs. West Side, Old School vs. New, or just straight up program vs. program. The event has got it all and it will be an exciting weekend, ” Smith said.
“For me, this event is what squash is all about – putting your uniform on and going out and competing with your teammates for your school and program.”
The annual tournament offers its participants the chance of team competition in a mainly individual sport.
“There is such a big difference between team squash and individual squash and knowing how to compete in both is very important in a young player’s development, ” said Smith.
“This event highlights the team experience and introduces it to the kids at an early stage, which is unique in squash.”
“Wins and losses will be recorded but it’s not what the event’s about – kids will have this total squash and life experience written into their DNA.”
Local Boston program SquashBusters will host the event this year at Northeastern and Harvard Universities. The u13 and u15 divisions are being held at Harvard’s Murr Center, and the u17 and u19 divisions at SquashBusters’ Northeastern facility.
SquashBusters was the United States’ original urban squash program, and hosted the very first Urban Team Nationals in 2004. The event has since been hosted annually between Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
NUSEA oversees community-based urban squash and education programs across the United States. The organization is US Squash’s official charity, and a portion of proceeds from the U.S. Open Squash Championships, hosted in Philadelphia, and other US Squash events and programs benefit Urban Squash organizations.