US Squash has announced the SL Green StreetSquash Center – located in Harlem, New York City – as the sixth facility to be accredited as an official US Squash Community Affiliate.
StreetSquash has been on the forefront of community engagement since 1999 when it became the second Squash and Education Alliance (SEA) program in the country. In 2008, the program opened the SL Green StreetSquash Center in Harlem, which features eight courts, four classrooms, a library, changing rooms, offices, and the foundation for the organization to develop new partnerships and programming.
StreetSquash’s facility anchors a squash hotbed in the nation’s largest city, serving local youth and families through its after-school program, providing competitive space for local universities and schools, and hosting regular New York Squash leagues and other community events.
In 2019, StreetSquash’s Chief Squash Officer, Simba Muhwati, established The Squash Academy at the SL Green StreetSquash Center, which provides expanded opportunities for junior development. In addition to training and competitive play, the program now offers an affordable pay-to-play model for the public. The Squash Academy serves as the engine for the program’s expanded community squash engagement goals, as a part of the US Squash Community Affiliate model.
The Squash Academy staff includes former World No. 9 Adrian Grant. Squash Professionals Katiria Sanchez (StreetSquash Senior Squash Director, former member of Trinity
Women’s Varsity Squash Team, and alumna of CitySquash), and Joanne Schickerling (Associate Head Coach Men’s and Women’s Squash at Columbia University) drive community squash efforts. Schickerling’s role in The Squash Academy deepens StreetSquash’s decade-long partnership with Columbia University. Columbia Squash has trained and competed out of StreetSquash’s Harlem facility for 13 years, and the University has since built a top 10 squash program nationally. Over the years, Columbia players and coaches have broadened their relationships with StreetSquash by connecting with participants on court and in the classroom – from squash training and mentorship to tutoring and post-secondary support.
“At its core, StreetSquash is a youth-based program. However, our organization is always evolving to celebrate our community and maximize the impact of our incredible facility,” Muhwati said. “We’re building on our partner school model to engage participants from the community with the hope of welcoming a wider breadth of students, and also their families. US Squash’s vision of creating access to the game of squash and building community is very much in line with StreetSquash’s mission, and we look forward to partnering with other Community Affiliates to help deliver programs on the ground for young people.”
This fall, StreetSquash has redoubled community outreach efforts to engage more schools, churches, and other community-based organizations in and around Harlem, and Sanchez is excited about getting more students and families on court.
“StreetSquash aims to support our participants, and also the community that surrounds our program,” Sanchez said. “What excites me most about our recent outreach is the new relationships that will blossom. Some people in the community might not know what squash is or that our center even exists. New outreach brings connections, conversations, and a mutual commitment to the progression and support of the Harlem community and its members. Our program has great potential because we can accommodate what each person is looking for. Someone could make a court reservation based on their availability, or join a fun group evening activity. We offer family sessions, one-on-one private training, and friendly matches with other community members and friends. Thanks to the community squash model, players get to tailor their own experiences every step of the way. StreetSquash provides the space to meet, connect, and build together.”
As a Community Affiliate, the SL Green StreetSquash Center joins MetroSquash in Chicago, Portland Community Squash in Maine, Atlanta Community Squash, Access Youth Academy in San Diego, Urban Squash Cleveland, and the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
No matter where you play squash – outdoor courts, universities, independent schools, SEA facilities, community centers, or commercial courts – if your program has a non-profit element and you are committed to building an inclusive community, learn more about joining the Community Affiliate Network.