The T Squash Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio–a five-court facility founded in 2014–has become the tenth US Squash Community Affiliate.
The T Squash Academy was formed as a part of a vision to establish a viable, regional squash center in the Midwest. The initial focus and success started with the junior squash center with an emphasis on competitive squash. Over seven years, the T has encountered many “firsts” for Cincinnati and Ohio with a range of junior tournaments from JCT’s to Junior Bronze tournaments. The T operates with a membership model with various member specific programming for juniors for more recently, adults. In joining the US Squash Community Affiliate Network, the T–in collaboration with local SEA program the Cincinnati Squash Academy–will expand its goals of increasing access to squash across the socio-economic spectrum while fostering the resulting community of juniors, parents and adult players for a sustainable future.
“The T’s mission has always been focused on increasing access to the sport regardless of socio-economic status, and we’re now at the point where we feel like we’re ready to drive home the orientation of creating access through the modality of community squash,” said Rohit Nayak, the T Squash Academy Board Chair. “Our hope is that we can attract a diverse cross section of people interested in the sport to take advantage of the value of the sport, and use that as a mechanism to drive participation through families and friends to create a community. We’ve seen that magic happen organically a few times, but to do it now systematically is what we’re trying to fine tune and we’re excited to use the approaches and methodologies of the Community Affiliate Network to achieve that.”
Led by Head Squash Professional Josh Saysell, the T’s squash programming includes adult, junior and women’s clinics, box leagues, ladders, round robins, match play, fitness and wellness events, a home facility for the St. Xavier University’s Women’s Squash Team, and Squashstars–a new junior program focused on subsidized membership and programming opportunities to entry-level 7-11 year olds.
“This is new territory for us,” Nayak said. “Community squash in every geography is going to be different. Cincinnati is unique in that we actually had an open squash program, membership base and junior academy as existing entities that we can now pull together to drive a successful community program. To have the US Squash Community Affiliate Network providing the umbrella for best practices, steps and processes we can use going forward is something that we need and welcome. Squash as a business is a tough ecosystem. We saw the orientation where most people were not familiar with the sport, or many looked at it as too expensive and not for them. There is a lot that needs to be done in the middle area of the squash spectrum if we want more awareness of the sport and the value that we believe people can derive from the sport and that becoming ubiquitous.”
As a Community Affiliate, the T Squash Academy joins the SL Green StreetSquash Center in Harlem, MetroSquash in Chicago, Portland Community Squash in Maine, Atlanta Community Squash, Access Youth Academy in San Diego, Urban Squash Cleveland, Virginia Squash and the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
“We haven’t always necessarily called it community squash a couple years ago, but that’s it,” Nayak said. “We hadn’t taken many steps in that direction, but what the Community Affiliate Network is trying to do across all of these different methods is to create a pathway to community squash. The fact that US Squash has taken up the community squash mantle is fantastic because it’s given it much more credibility, and also says that is something that isn’t being done overnight, it’s something that will take time, and with organizational support it can thrive and sustain itself going forward.”
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.