The kids are in town

Saturday at Drexel was busy one as the kids involved in the SquashSmarts program descended on the Daskalakis Athletic Center for their first taste of world class squash.

James Zug explains …

DSC_4500.JPG Perhaps the most public face of Philadelphia Squash is SquashSmarts.

About to celebrate its tenth anniversary with a gala at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011, the award-winning program boasts eighty youngsters from four West or Nort Philadelphia schools, led by seven full-time staffers including Executive Director Steve Gregg.

DSC_4509.JPG It has an annual budget of half a million dollars – more than a thousand local businesses, foundations and individuals have made a charitable investment of over $2.4 million in support of the program. In Spring 2010 SquashSmarts received a three-year $105,000 challenge grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts through the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services in Philadelphia, a highly-selective awards program.

DSC_4529.JPG Its relationship with Drexel, guided by Athletic Director Eric Zillmer, has been constructive: SquashSmarts helped develop the Dragon’s club squash, which is now poised to go to a new level with five new international courts replacing its six hardball ones, and its first full-time coach, former world #1 John White; in return Drexal has provided the program with its home for a decadeand a fleet of academic tutors and mentors.

DSC_4543.JPG In 2007 SquashSmarts opened the Lenfest Center in North Philadelphia, probably the most architecturally stunning squash facility in the country, made possible by squash enthusiast and SquashSmarts board member Chase Lenfest.

DSC_4559.JPG With 52,000 square feet of space and eight courts, it is a landmark in the city. It fills a need; there are limited after-school academic or athletic activities at Philadelphia middle schools.

SquashSmarts works.

DSC_4545.JPG

It fills a need: there are limited after-school academic or athletic activities at Philadelphia middle schools.

And it gets results: 100% of its three senior classes have graduated from high school. Many go on to play on their college squash teams, continuing the century-old tradition of spreading the news of the unique Philadelphia squash family.

And it gets results: 100% of its three senior classes have graduated from high school. Many go on to play on their college squash teams, continuing the century-old tradition of spreading the news of the unique Philadelphia squash family.

All we know is that the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves on Saturday … and we’ll try to go and see tham at home at the Lenfest Center later in the week …

[pe2-gallery class=”aligncenter” ] DSC_4534.JPGDSC_4538.JPGDSC_4515.JPGDSC_4553.JPGDSC_4571.JPGDSC00553.JPG[/pe2-gallery]