US Squash has announced Portland Community Squash (PCS) as the second facility to be accredited as an official US Squash Community Affiliate. The Community Affiliate initiative begins the process of developing more formal relationships with key regional facility partners that are closely aligned with US Squash’s mission of promoting squash’s growth and development by increasing access and awareness, supporting meaningful lifelong engagement in the sport, and encouraging sportsmanship while achieving competitive excellence.
Community Affiliates conduct US Squash programs and activities to build the sport, inclusive of junior scholastic squash team programs, junior squash grassroots development and high-performance programs, squash and education programs, adult squash development, and accredited leagues, ladders, and tournaments. Community Affiliates receive programmatic assistance including US Squash software and support services, regional and national promotion, and coordination on pilot programs focused on creating and testing best practices for growing the sport.
As a Community Affiliate, PCS joins Atlanta Community Squash – first announced in November of 2019 – and will be followed by the Arlen Specter US Squash Center, slated to open in December of 2020 in Philadelphia as the permanent home of US Squash.
“Portland Community Squash provided the original model that has developed into the Community Affiliate program,” said Kevin Klipstein, President & CEO of US Squash. “The approach they’ve developed will greatly expand the way the sport is accessed – look no further than PCS to see the future of the game in the U.S. We are grateful for their innovation and leadership, and we look forward to integrating this type of programming at the Specter Center.”
PCS is the culmination of years of grassroots organizing. Greg Born, a co-founder of PCS, began organizing play at the Portland YMCA in 2008, and by 2012 the Y had converted two racquetball courts. Barrett Takesian, the current PCS President and Senior Executive Director, joined the community playing at the Y when he moved to Portland in 2012, and launched Portland Squash in 2013. Rebranded as Portland Community Squash, the organization expanded local participation at the Y supported by league and reservation software from Club Locker. By 2015, the amount of play at the Y reached a saturation point, and PCS turned its focus to pursuing a facility that would house and integrate adult members, junior programs, and an urban after-school program.
PCS pursued multiple development opportunities hoping to lease a building, eventually landing on Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh, Maine’s oldest continuously operating synagogue. Shaarey Tphiloh had a 1950s-era building on Noyes Street in Portland’s Woodford’s Corner neighborhood. It was on the market for $1.2 million. PCS raised $1.5 million, including a $10,000 contribution from US Squash, and the building was purchased in September 2016. By January 2017, PCS opened its doors for the first time and within months was filling its four courts to nearly 100% daily utilization within months.
In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Takesian and US Squash have now come together to provide professional expertise to accelerate the launch of more affiliates. Community Squash programs are now in the exploratory phase in nearly 20 cities across the country. In the role of Senior Advisor for Community Programs, Takesian will focus on improving access, equity and integration within the sport, supporting emerging community squash programs and reviewing community squash applications. Advisory fees for professional services will be partially covered by US Squash.
“All of us at Portland Community Squash are excited to be recognized as a US Squash Community Affiliate,” said Takesian. “Since opening almost four years ago, we’ve proven that building inclusive, access-focused programs can lower barriers for entry to the sport while forming a sustainable model for future growth. US Squash has been an important partner for PCS throughout our development, and we are inspired to see the expansion of the Community Squash model nationwide.”