What is Squash?
Invented in England in the 1860s, squash is a physically and intellectually demanding racket sport for two people, played on an indoor court with four walls. Hit with a strung racket, a hot rubber ball ricochets around at up to 170mph, as the two players try to play a winning shot or force their opponent into making an error. Players can burn in excess of 1000 calories per hour – according to Forbes Magazine, “more than any other sport.”
Squash is played by more than 20 million people in 188 countries.
Until recently in the United States, squash was played almost exclusively at prep schools, elite universities, and exclusive clubs. The sport has become more widely played over the past few decades, and its strong ties to top-tier educational institutions including the Ivy League. There are more than 70 colleges in the US that offer study opportunities for squash scholar athletes.
Squash is uniquely effective as an after-school program ‘hook’ because it is:
- A physically and intellectually demanding sport
- Played by graduates and professionals
- Growing in the U.S., with 1+ million players (and 500 in Houston!)
- A game that places a high value on sportsmanship
- A proven pathway to prestigious high schools and universities
What is “Urban” Squash?
Urban Squash is a proven youth development model created 25 years ago by Harvard University graduate and professional squash player Greg Zaff. The model combines training in the sport of squash with long-term academic support, mentoring, community service and college placement for public school elementary through high school students in under-served communities. The year-round, 5-day-a-week programming takes place after school, on the weekends and in the summer. Following an ‘inch wide, mile deep’ approach to youth development, urban squash programs create meaningful and life-long experiences, lessons, and support for each student, from the time they enter the program through their college graduation.
Over $25 million in college scholarships have been awarded to graduates of the 20+ Urban Squash programs in North America and there are now affiliate programs across the globe in the UK, India and Columbia.