By Kevin Klipstein
As many of you have likely noticed, perhaps by the different title of this monthly piece, we have changed the name of the organization from USSRA to “US Squash.” While we started this process well over a year ago, our move to New York now prompts us to dedicate resources to re-branding the Association. Why the change?
First, we’re years behind the rest of the squash world who long ago dropped “racquets” from the name of the sport. Most other nations use either the “Squash Canada” or “England Squash” model for naming. In addition, all other US national sports governing bodies use US or USA + the sport name. Finally, we can all agree the name US Squash is far more descriptive than the “USSRA” acronym, and the change will help us more efficiently build the awareness of the sport and help drive growth.
A quick look back at last season shows some important foundation work has been done to grow the sport: We experienced an 18% increase in annual membership, and an increase in the total membership to over 9,000 for first time since 1993; our teams earned two Silver medals and our own World No. 5, Natalie Grainger, earned an individual Gold medal in the quadrennial Pan American Games; we also experienced a 25% rise, to nearly 70 boy’s and girl’s teams, in our U.S. High School Team Championships; and we launched our Junior Endowment Fund Grant Program, which now supports grassroots junior development and urban squash initiatives. Over the summer we adopted a revised governance structure to contemporize our organization and provide the flexibility and focus we need.
In the upcoming months, look for a new logo, and the re-branding of our programs to become consistent with the image we all share for the sport—one that is strategic, active, and inclusive. We also partner with over 30 local squash associations and have encouraged them to work towards consistency in naming over time to avoid confusion for people in squash and those new to the sport.
What else can you look forward to from US Squash? In these pages you’ll read about our new partnership with the New England Interscholastic Squash Association designed to better integrate the two distinct junior squash populations. This season we will also introduce a National Middle School Championships to encourage the development of more programs across the country and at the same time increase distributions through our Junior Fund grants to support efforts, such as Chicago’s urban METROsquash with Sue event, which will introduce 1,000 juniors to the sport. In the next issue you’ll read about the recently concluded 2007 U.S. Open Championship, the largest men’s prize money tournament in North America.
Having been a member myself since 1982, calling ourselves US Squash can be an adjustment at times, but it is now time to add USSRA to the long list of retired names such as CSRA, ISRF, England’s “SRA,” and of course, Cingular. We will maintain the positive spirit of what has been the USSRA and honor our rich history, while at the same time work hard to reach past our previous limitations in order to lead an even more vibrant US Squash community.