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SEA Nats… 450 students High School and Middle School participants… (310 High Schoolers) from 21… 21 member organizations… 5 player team tournament.


What these organizations do: Coach Squash - Enhance the academic performance of participants. Yes, maybe an over-simplification but that is the core endeavor. What SEA does is hold member organizations to certain standards that ensure cohesive programming and safe practices. 


Throwing stats around…

2500 Students… boasting a 94% College admission rate

Only 52 of them play varsity squash… 

Upon entering the Spectre Center, I was struck by how underwhelmed I had initially felt first looking at the subdued facade of the building. The Arlin Spectre Center, home to US Squash is a cavernous space with two show squash courts dropped in the middle and rows of courts splattered along the sides with two levels of viewing. Instantly heard the banging sound of matches being played and continued screams of varying intensity and density.  Add to that office spaces on 3 levels, a pro shop, and a Hall of Fame section I could hear raucous screams of varying intensity rising and descending intermittently. 


195 HS graduates have played on their college squash teams.


Self sustaining… self-supporting model.

Think, fastest growing college sport… this program facilitates this.

Programs make college seem even more attainable.

Self-sustaining trends aside… 

fitness clubs have been trending out of racquet sports like squash/racquetball,

unless it's pickleball, which is experiencing a bunch of mini bubbles commercially.


As sports become increasingly more socially integrated with the increases in participation, self-standing venues become more of a probability. 


While these trends may seem slow moving here for squash, they feel as though they are becoming increasingly supportable. 


Legacy participants moving forward after college, who work for their programs or related programming somewhere else?


Number of facilities that have broken ground and/or are in the process of construction? Six. Add to that the new digs ....

Where I was.

What I see.

What I know.

What I think.

Not talking about elite private schools that may offer programming or memberships for those outside of their academic spaces. 



Robert angle… nurturing, gardening Squash in the US.


Building and creating legacy players… objectively looking… with a total understanding that my understanding of squash and the breath of it’s reach is limited… stand alone entities, independent of school affiliations, or elite, private club, thrive and engage healthy local economies… (maybe reference court closures… responses… ) 


State number of upcoming project builds, ground breaks, etc… punching out squash players one high school class at a time… maintaining grad success rates.





Very limited… the spirit of competition aside, groups aggregated accordingly…. Led me to draw closer to reactions… interestingly to those who reacted to me…reminded me of me here, in this look at my brief experience with these groups.


In a comparison the sport of racquetball here in the States…. High School Nationals… USA Racquetball… what is the comparative organization hosted 231 competitors… almost all from either Missouri or Oregon… with just under a dozen coming from Illinois, California, Texas or Iowa.


SEA Nats… 450 students High School and Middle School participants… (310 High Schoolers) from 21… 21 member organizations… 5 player team tournament.


What these organizations do: Coach Squash - Enhance academic performance of participants. Yes, maybe an over-simplification but that is the core endeavor. What SEA does is hold member organizations to certain standards that ensure cohesive programing and safe practices. 


Throwing stats around…

2500 Students… boasting a 94% College admission rate

Only 52 of them play varsity squash… 



For me, I could feel some familiar nuances observing players interacting with one another and the differing styles in which administrators communicated and spent time with players.


Two different programs… standardized by affiliations… still presented with variable environments and challenges. I could feel energy ranging from the feeling of certainty youth exhibit as they walked as though knowing this is just the beginning of their squash experience… as others, waiting for matches as though on a field trip. I witnessed how some administrators tap into the cultural and generational flows as others presented more traditional coach/athlete vibes. I could feel the nuances… 


It’s almost a shock or a double take… to hear these kids talk back to me… I’m taken back to when I was their age… running around NYC with a paddle in the 80s… they sound like I did… positive, eager with energy. But then to see some of them, so fluid. Playing like swimming…


My take is still one of someone who enjoys watch professional squash highlights and casually enjoying playing squash on an outdoor steel court in NYC… who still doesn’t quite grab the breath of squash’s reach here in the US. It sounds to me like, whether intended or not, cementing these young people with deeply enriching experiences related to this sport is the foundational importance to maintaining and even growing squash during a time when squash courts in health clubs are phased out or repurposed in the name of financial viability. 


Yet, my feeling here is that these programs continue to form out alumni that make squash a lifestyle choice. When I look and notice vibrant, stand alone squash venues, when 10 or so years ago I didn’t even know they could exist here in these numbers, knowing the assault on sports falling out of favor with the public in Lue of newer, easier sports to engage in.


70’s or 80’s by looking at these kids.

I could almost feel the energy I once had about racket sports as a teenager. I was hungry for them. I played paddleball everyday and viewed that as a good probability that I could excel in racquet sports and was and would be hungry to try anything I could access. I saw a racquetball court well before I ever came across a squash court… that didn’t happen until I married and moved to another state.


City skyline feeling of potential… equate to the feeling of being in a sport that I have genuine physicality for… 


I can only sigh at any thought of a good number of these kids are being tipped to the side of positivity by these relationships. Growing up on NYC’s Lower East Side… running around with my paddle in my bag, hopping from park to park in search of games… I know that a young me would have seen these programs as a beacon attracting my forehands. (You use both hands on NYC courts.)


Nothing screams out growth to me more than finding out about these stand alone squash venues that exist outside of the exclusive membership set or fitness chains. Seeing viable squash as a sport business models just makes me think, these program alums could find themselves easily continuing to play squash, as a regular life thing, well past their educational years.


Stepping into this world cold, I can say that I left the event knowing that I knew way less about this sport than I thought I did. The depth at which squash is active with comprehensive engagement here in the States, doesn’t quite come across when you’re a casual fan of the PSA.


Junior Squash Growth

Since 2012, West Coast 47% increase tournament participation

32% increase in tournaments

12% increase in average number of players per event

South East, 477% increase in tournament participation

700% increase in number of tournaments

New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions remain constant with participation growing slightly year over year

Since 2006, the Junior Open Squash Championships has increased from 271 to over 1000 players from more than 37 countries, making it the largest individual junior squash tournament in the world.


Racquetball vs. Squash

Racquetball in steep decline - SFIA shows 16% decrease in participation since 2010.. (this has to be for just the US is my guess.) 

Racquetball courts continue to be converted all over the world.  US Squash helps this initiative by providing up to $1000 per court conversion


Squash for Life – Adult Squash

Since 2009, individual box league matches have increased by 185% while team league matches have increased by 63%!

Ladder matches have exploded by over 3300% and local club friendly matches have increased by 233%!


Women’s Squash on the Rise

Women’s Squash Week continues to bring players together around the world, now in over 36 different cities in both the U.S., Canada, Barbados, and Bermuda!

Women’s participation has doubled since 2008, now playing over 30, 000 matches each year!


Middle and High School Squash Programs Keep Growing

The High School Team Squash Championships started in 2005 with 16 teams. The tournament has grown to be the largest squash event in the world with over 170 teams and more than 1, 500 players from all over the country.

Since 2011, the Middle School Team Squash Championships has almost doubled in size to over 70 teams and continues to get larger each year.

There are many Accredited Scholastic Squash Program Middle and High School Leagues around the country with more than 350 teams actively participating.


Emerging to club to varsity squash

Since 2005, there has been a 61% increase in the number of club and varsity college programs, and can expect this number to continue to grow as the increased junior participation continues to drive more club and varsity program development at the collegiate level.

There are now 82 men’s and 52 women’s programs across the country. All Ivy League schools have squash teams.


But to put it into today’s perspective for me… I think of the courts in Chinatown, where a steady stream , constant flow of players of ALL ages, socially, where talent in the game transfers to social cache… any kid traveling to those courts knowing they can find a game, maybe even taking a long subway ride for those games… there are so many kids, you mean to tell me none of them are feeling the way I did, knowing something that lies within your talent structure…and also knowing you have, wanting that energy to direct??


I feel a bit like I did back then… the 80’s… I knew I wanted to play racquetball. I didn’t, however know how big (or how small, comparatively,) it was, (I didn’t come to that understanding until just before 2010,) I just knew I wanted to play.


My wondering is directed towards the thought that that feeling can be manifested by some kid in high school, who’s school isn’t directly connected to a SEA program.


It’s like they’re being planted.

Planting buildings like gardens… what are these generations going to look to keep playing. These aren’t country club kids, they’re smart, some are street savvy and comparatively independent. They’ve built much of their social capital into this game, where do you think they’ll end up playing in say, 10 or 20 years? The buildings are growing their own sustainability.


Sustaining Eden.


Legacy participants stay connected to their tribes, some continuing to call their squash roots their home courts in a way. Growth here is both focused outward and inward with the sense that it’s important to offer your time back to your community, with an added pay-off for some because the space is also a coupling with social connections and events within the sport in a significantly broader way.

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