Harlem’s Thurgood Marshall Academy became the first school to send an all-Black team to compete in the U.S. High School Championships–a historic milestone in U.S. squash history.
The StreetSquash-based program entered the boys division six as the four seeds, and produced a 4-3 semifinal upset over Friends Central to advance to the finals Sunday, February 26, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
In the finals, the TMA Panthers fell short, 4-3, in an exciting final against Boston’s Brookline Boys Varsity. Following the finals, the team were recognized for their historic achievement.
“We’re all on a journey as is this team and program,” said Kevin Klipstein, US Squash President & CEO. “The relationship between StreetSquash and Thurgood Marshall has been longstanding and there have been amazing results with this being the first time that they’ve fielded a full team. It’s wonderful to see and completely aligned with our mission of making the sport and the opportunities the sport presents on and off the court accessible to everybody. Squash is a lifetime sport and we hope to see you for years to come at the Specter Center and as a part of the squash community.”
Simba Muhwati, StreetSquash’s Director of Squash and the TMA coach, reflected on the gravity of the occasion.
“Having played squash for over 30 years and watched the game I love evolve and improve over time I have had a lot of wonderful opportunities,” Muhwati said. “These include representing my country of birth Zimbabwe at the World Juniors in 2000, attending and winning 5 national championships at Trinity College, and joining the U.S> Junior National Team as a coach for the USA, the country that I am a proud citizen of. These are all momentous accolades of the time I have spent in the game. And as I said to the boys prior to the final, none of those experiences compare to this past weekend, and the pride I felt for them, and what they accomplished. This will go down as the most treasured moment in my career to date and will always hold a special spot in my heart. We broke some serious barriers and made history. What can be better than that?”
TMA seniors Mohammed Diakite and Harlem Jones added: “No matter what, history was made,” Diakite said, and “Despite the outcome, we still feel like we won,” Jones said.
The 2023 U.S. High School Championships was the world’s largest squash tournament with a tournament-high 187 varsity squash teams from twenty states fielding nearly 1,700 player across thirteen divisions. 20% of the teams attending the tournament–35 in total including Thurgood Marshall Academy–were from public schools, more than double the number of public school teams that participated ten years prior in 2013.
The TMA team’s journey has garnered media coverage from national and local outlets. View more coverage below:
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