The Manhattan Squash Junior Program!
Photos taken at our first junior tournament, held May 1-2! Photos by Marques Walls.
We are proud to announce the NEW in-house Manhattan Squash Junior Program, to commence in the fall with the new school year. Our Junior Program will be built on five core principles:
- Fun exercise
- Learning the game
- Paths to excellence
- Building character
When we first launched (y)our Squash Center right before the pandemic, we decided to outsource the junior program. We found a great partner in Nicol Squash and we have no regrets. But as we mature and grow, we’ve realized that the best way to truly serve our non-profit mission – to increase access to squash regardless of income level, for juniors as well as adults – is to bring the program in-house.
Over 25% of people who currently play at the Manhattan Community Squash Center receive some sort of financial support. And what’s more – and this is key – the more successful we are financially over time with full-paying members, programming, and fundraising, the more we can (and will) plow additional resources back into the Center to do even more to support participation in the sport – and ultimately be in a position to never turn anyone away because they can’t afford it. That’s our goal. And that’s what it means to be a non-profit.
And now we want to bring that same philosophy to our junior program, and we are really excited about it. Whether you want your child to learn squash from scratch, just for the joy of it, or because you see they have real talent and want them to develop and take their game as far as they can go (college? pro?), we will have a program track for you. And we are recruiting a team of amazing teaching professionals over the spring and summer that will take the lead in making this all happen. More details on that as we have them.
THE FIVE CORE PRINCIPLES:
ACCESSIBILITY. We want to ensure that any junior who wants to participate can play squash, regardless of family income. Just like with our adults.
FUN FITNESS. We love squash. It’s a blast. That’s why we pour our time and money into the sport. We want to spread this love of the game far and wide and make squash a lifelong passion for all who try it. Moreover, we want to promote fitness, as well as helping people improve motor skills, hand-eye coordination, stamina, strength, flexibility, nutrition, and better sleep! And let’s not forget the fun of making new friends. We will provide our juniors plenty of opportunity for that.
LEARNING THE GAME. We love to teach. We will help our juniors with technique, strategy, and tactics. And that includes all the different swings and strokes to be a complete player (serves too, and maybe even some trick shots!), proper court movement (critical) and strategic shot selection and game strategy — and of course the important softer skills too like focus and resilience (especially after losing!).
PATHS TO EXCELLENCE. For those who want it, we will provide a way to go as far as you can. That may be playing recreationally, or playing for your school team, or it may mean playing (and even winning!) bronze, silver, and then gold and JCT tournaments. It may also mean competing in college, and maybe even going pro. For those juniors with talent and interest in being high-level tournament players, we will provide an array of advanced instruction and training opportunities.
CHARACTER BUILDING. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of squash. Part of that character building is learning how to behave on the court, especially under pressure. In a phrase, good sportsmanship. Learning how to let your opponent have that stroke because you couldn’t clear – even if it means losing the match – is hard. And because it’s hard, it builds character. One of the reasons squash is so good at community building is because playing squash properly brings out the best in people. Our juniors will also learn the value of hard work and resilience and the sense of accomplishment in developing a difficult skill. Finally — and this element brings it all together — we aim to provide our juniors a sense of belonging to a larger community with a common goal.
Look for more announcements in the weeks to come here. We’ve already started by offering two junior camps with Harvard Squash Coach Mike Way this summer (you can sign up here), and we’ll be launching our full junior program in the fall, across all age groups and skill levels. We’ll put more information out on the web as it’s available. If you want more info or to reserve your spot now, please let us know.
Thanks to everyone in our amazing squash community as we take this next step together!