More than six months have passed since my last direct message to the community. Perhaps I didn’t want to jinx anything since it appeared we were making very steady progress towards returning to play and increasing access to the sport. Or maybe our actions were speaking for themselves. To highlight some of what’s gone on recently, we’ve:
- Hosted a series of Junior Squash Forums, Return to Competition Q&As, Town Halls, the annual Junior Awards Night, and an Annual Meeting;
- Celebrated the Class of 2021 and Sportsmanship Award honorees;
- Brought back all furloughed staff members (and athletes) due to the generous support of Districts and donors and re-launched accredited play and summer tournament activity including the release of the 21-22 Nationals schedule;
- Completed construction on the Specter Center, hosted beta-test events and then started selling memberships;
- In July we soft-opened the Specter Center, hosted community clinics and our first national-level tournament; and
- Throughout all of this we’ve taken steps to ramp up staffing in preparation for a full 2021 – 2022 season and have some exciting announcements on the horizon.
Up until just a few weeks ago, all signs appeared to be headed in the right direction. What a difference just a few weeks can make: Delta variant hot spots, breakthrough infections, mask wars and return-to-school preparations for the 50 million+ kids ramping up – hardship, hurdles and challenges around every corner.
Rest assured that the community’s safety is our #1 priority. To that end, going all the way back to March 2020, we were the first national sports governing body to shut down all competition. We have been among the few to require proof of vaccination to compete without a mask, with similar approaches now being adopted by major cities such as New York and Philadelphia for indoor activities. All of these steps were taken in order to ensure a safe and fair environment in which to enjoy the sport.
To the credit of the staff, the Board of Directors, active committees and many volunteer experts, we have been rigorous in our processes to determine how to proceed. While it is of course challenging to meet everyone’s goals in these times, and difficult to balance safety and fair competition, we will continue to do everything we can to support the community in response to these dynamic circumstances. As a community we all rely on each other to succeed. The facilities and institutions need pros and coaches, the pros and coaches need the support of players and competitors, the coaches, pros, players and competitors rely on organizations like us to drive engagement, and all of us rely on access to courts provided by facilities and institutions around the country.
As we head into what is shaping up to be another challenging period, maintaining some balance in our inter-dependencies during this ebb and flow, push and pull, will continue to be critical. Throughout this pandemic, individual and family choices have been forced on us daily and required us all to revisit priorities. Our priority has been, and will remain, the safety of the community.
We will continue to be rigorous in our approach, inclusive in our decision-making, and thoughtful in our implementation of policies and initiatives. We will also continue to seek the appropriate guidance from federal, state and local authorities as we work through this next phase together.
None of this has been easy. It also hasn’t been fun. Whether your family has been directly impacted by illnesses or worse related to the pandemic, or you’ve been fortunate to be relatively Covid-free, all of us have been deeply impacted by the experience of the last 18 months. Employers and municipalities, restaurants and gyms, summer camps and everyday activities have had to adapt constantly – so much so that we felt compelled to ensure the community has some awareness of the mental health resources available to it
It’s been said that the secret to happiness is having something to look forward to. We’re fortunate to have one another, and to have a sport like squash. It binds us together in shared values and experiences, reminds us that some things are indeed eternal. Squash serves as something to look forward to – whether it’s a regular weekly game with a friend, your league pals, time together with high school or college teammates or pursuing your own individual goal of maintaining good health or achieving excellence.
We’re looking forward to ensuring you have these experiences safely, and very much appreciate the understanding and partnership of our community and members, and finally, we wish to thank you for your support of our continued efforts in keeping us all Fit for Life.