SquashSmarts athletes excited as U.S. Open approaches

Colesto Williams is an 8th grade student at SquashSmarts, Philadelphia’s urban squash program.  SquashSmarts is the local urban squash partner of the U.S. Open Squash Championships, and helps to facilitate Kids Day at the U.S. Open which is designed to expose hundreds of Philadelphia students to the global world of squash.  

“October has become one of my favorite times of the year; being able to see the country’s top squash players play each other is truly astonishing. Sitting in the crowd of the U.S. Open Squash Championships, one can feel the excitement over who might win the next point. Each point is nearly silent with only the sound of the squash ball hitting the glass wall. Seeing how much time and skill goes into one point is mind-blowing.

Last year, my teammates and I watched two amazing female players, Kasey Brown and Laura Massaro, play each other. They played such an amazing match and just by watching, I have learned a lot from their skill and technique. Fortunately, my teammates and I got the chance to meet both women. It was such an honor being able to meet such talented female players. Talking to them inspired us to work harder on court and become the best possible squash players we can be.

Not only did I get to meet some amazing squash players, I also got to try out the speed radar for the US Open Kids Day. The speed radar was to test how fast a person can hit a squash ball in a red and white target tarp. It was fun to see how fast each person’s shots were and seeing several squash players show up their friends who haven’t played. The friends showed great interest in squash and how to become involved in the sport. My personal favorite activity was playing squash on the Nintendo Wii; it was a challenge playing on a screen!

So how did I, a pubic school student from West Philadelphia, become a squash enthusiast? I started my journey as a squash player as a 6th Grade Student in the SquashSmarts Program in the basement of the Daskalakis Athletic Center at Drexel University and at The Lenfest Center, our headquarters in North Philadelphia. SquashSmarts is a youth program that works with 5-12th Grade Students on academic and athletic achievement. Starting off, I didn’t know how much practice it would take to get better, but over my two years of playing squash, I have learned that practice makes perfect! In order to become better, I attend SquashSmarts practice five days a week for academic and squash support. Some people may consider squash a sport- I consider it a gigantic part of my life. I am always looking for ways to become a better player. I’ve realized that even the best athletic skills mean nothing without an education. While expanding my squash skills, I have also expanded my writing talents, even winning a writing contest through the National Urban Squash and Education Association. Even when not at SquashSmarts, my teammates and I discuss ways we can improve both on courts and in the classroom. We are “squash pros in training” and becoming better people every step of the way!

As a squash player, I can’t wait to see what this year’s squash players will bring to the court. I am truly excited to sit in the stands, cheer on the players and celebrate all that is squash. I hope to see you there!”

– By Colesto Williams

Buying a ticket to the U.S. Open helps support the National Urban Squash and Education Association (NUSEA).  A portion of U.S. Open proceeds benefit Urban Squash member organizations including SquashSmarts which run after-school enrichment programs to help motivated and talented young people from economically disadvantaged households fulfill their academic, athletic and personal potential.

To find out more about SquashSmarts, head to www.squashsmarts.org

To find out more about NUSEA, head to www.nationalurbansquash.org