With an eye to providing Boston with a world-class evening of squash this September 22, John Nimick wanted to ensure that some of the sport’s newest and biggest fans – the youth members of Boston’s SquashBusters program – had a front row seat. Nimick, founder of Squash Engine, Inc., and producer of the squash world’s iconic Tournament of Champions held in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, explains, «We are excited to donate $4,000 worth of tickets and 50% of net proceeds to SquashBusters. It is a great organization that means a great deal to the participants, their families and the sport as a whole.»
Created as a first-of-its-kind youth enrichment program using the fundamentals, discipline and values of the squash game to motivate urban youths between the ages of 12 and 18, SquashBusters selects over 120 children from Boston Public Schools to participate in a seven-year regimen of squash instruction, academic enrichment, community service and mentoring.
Teams meet for three hours, three times a week at the Badger-Rosen SquashBusters Center on the Northeastern University campus, focusing on squash instruction and academia. SquashBuster students receive comprehensive secondary school and college admissions guidance, as well as financial aid application support and counseling. Teresa Soares-Pena, executive director, SquashBusters, explains, «Each team member must also agree to participate in community service projects and is expected to translate the leadership skills they have learned on the squash court into acts of social consciousness.» Soares-Pena cites playground cleanup; visiting elderly residents of the city; and distributing clothing and food to area homeless shelters, as examples.
She continues, «Through generous donations from hundreds of supporters and special fundraising events like ‘Showdown,’ all squash and academic instruction, athletic equipment, transportation and field trips are provided free of charge. In return, students are expected to regularly attend practice and tournament games, as well as make a commitment to practice hard, respect teammates and to work at school as hard as they do on the court.»
* Attendance and commitment by all participants is nearly 95%.
* 100% of SquashBusters participants graduate from high school.
* 84% go to four-year colleges such as Wesleyan, Smith, Northeastern, Brown, Bates, Bryn Mawr, Tufts and Trinity, to name a few.
* 90% compete in at least three squash tournaments per year. Since the program’s inception, over 200 kids have achieved a Massachusetts Junior Squash ranking and many have also attained a national ranking.
* Over $4 million of scholarships have been awarded to SquashBusters students to attend private high schools and four-year colleges.
* Students participate in expansive summer programs including Crimson Summer Academy, Summer Search and numerous squash camps and receive the opportunity to travel within the U.S., as well as to countries in Africa and South America.
* SquashBusters operates several summer camps for yearlong participants and previously unaffiliated Boston Public School students.
* Serving the community is a team priority. Additional projects include sorting food for the Greater Boston Food Bank; volunteer officiating at Special Olympics; and participation in beautifying programs such as cleaning the grounds at Franklin Park.