On the afternoon of Dec. 16, when the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics dismissed its students, high school senior Katiria Sanchez hurried to Prospect Avenue to catch the #21 bus. She texted her grandmother to ask if the mail had been delivered. It hadn’t. When she arrived at her building a half-hour later, Katiria checked the mailbox herself. Still nothing. Disappointed, Katiria walked up to her 3rd floor apartment, packed her squash bag, and left for the Fordham University courts. But before walking out of her building, she decided to check the mailbox one more time. Sure enough, the mail had been delivered moments before, and she saw the envelope she’d been waiting for, with the familiar blue and gold logo above the return address. Katiria walked back up the stairs to open the letter with her grandmother, a 56-year-old Puerto Rican who has raised Katiria since she was an infant. “Congratulations,” the letter began.
Katiria was a sixth grader at Middle School 45 on 189th Street when she tried out for CitySquash. She’d never heard of squash, but she took to the sport quickly, attended extra practices, and soon began playing regional and national tournaments. Throughout middle school, she studied hard and regularly sought out extra help from the CitySquash staff and volunteers. As a high school student, she has maintained an 89% average and excelled in squash; last season she reached the finals of six tournaments and won two of them. This fall, when it came time to apply to college, Katiria considered many schools, but she was most interested in a small liberal arts college in central Connecticut that has the top squash program in the country. By the time Katiria came back from her recruiting trip to Hartford—at which she met players from Colombia, France, Malaysia, Mexico, and Scotland—her heart was set on Trinity College.
After rereading the acceptance letter and enjoying a few moments with her grandmother, Katiria changed into her new Trinity t-shirt, stopped by the CitySquash office and went to practice. Her teammates, tutors and coaches congratulated her, and she was beaming. She was also humble. “Never did I imagine as a sixth grader,” Katiria later e-mailed a staff member, “all the opportunities that CitySquash has given me in these six years. I am thankful for everything that the program has exposed me to and all the people who support it and help run it.”
Katiria is an exceptional young woman who exemplifies the best of what CitySquash makes possible. Be they third graders learning the backhand, eighth graders applying to boarding school, or high school students leading a neighborhood cleanup, the 130 team members work hard every day to become the best students, athletes and people they can be.