This weekend, hundreds of members of National Urban Squash Education Association (NUSEA) organizations will descend on the campuses of Williams College and Amherst College in Massachusetts for the fifteenth Urban Squash Individual Nationals. This year’s tournament is slated to be one of the largest yet, with more than 900 matches being played and over 450 kids participating from twenty-one urban squash programs including two international programs: Urban Squash Canada and Squash Urbano Colombia.
The athletes will compete in the boys’ and girls’ U19, U17, U15, and U13 A and B divisions. In last year’s A division draw, Squash Haven’s Michael Rodriguez captured the BU19 age division title, a repeat of the 2015 tournament. Similarly, Joana Pacheco, a member of CitySquash, took home the GU19 honors for her exceptional play, a feeling reminiscent of her first A division championship trophy in the GU13 age division in 2012. She will look to add to her championship total this weekend. In last year’s tournament, Pacheco’s win added to CitySquash’s overall trophy count of five whereas Rodriguez’s win was one of two for Squash Haven. Zeinab Bakayoko took home StreetSquash’s only A division title in the GU15 division.
“This is an event I circle on my calendar each year because it brings the whole urban squash community—students, graduates, supporters—together to celebrate the urban squash movement,” said Alana Lerner, Director of Academic Programs and Alumni Support.
The true excitement, however, lies outside of the court. Urban squash players love reconnecting with their peers, some of which they have not seen in years. The network that exists within the urban squash community extends far beyond the four walls of a squash court. Over the weekend, in effort to connect urban squash players with other communities, students will partake in campus tours. Representatives from private high schools will meet with NUSEA program staff and urban squash players have the opportunity to meet boarding school representatives during the private high school fair.
Saturday night features an award ceremony where urban squash players will be recognized for their accomplishments off the court. The winners of the annual writing and art contests will be named in each age division. Students who have the highest grade point averages will be recognized as well as those students who will be attending private high schools and college in the fall.