By James Zug
During the gala dinner at the biennial World Doubles tournament in Chicago, US Squash honored Paul M. Cussen with the United States Olympic Committee Volunteer Coach of the Year Award.
Cussen started his involvement with MetroSquash as one of the program’s first volunteers soon after the program launched in 2005. Over the past ten years, he has volunteered thousands of hours, been a mentor and friend to dozens of students, served as a board member and chaired MetroSquash’s program committee. For the past two years, Cussen has served as chair of the board.
Along with his wife, Peg, Paul knows the MetroSquash students. He takes them out to dinner, gives them driving lessons and visits them at boarding school and at college. He cheers MetroSquash players at tournaments and for many years has travelled to Williams for the Urban Individual Nationals. In 2013 he and Peg chaperoned four students who went to El Salvador for a week of squash and cultural enrichment. Paul has helped students navigate through many of life’s challenges—from big events like gang violence and deaths of family members or friends to just being there for kids as a sounding board and friend. The students respect him deeply and look to him as a father figure.
“Cussen embodies our program’s values in so many ways,” said David Kay, the executive director of MetroSquash. “He does not just participate in programming—he participates in our students’ lives. In many cases, he knows our students better than we do as staff and we always reach out to him for advice. He is an advocate for the toughest kids, always urging us never to give up on a child and to always keep the door open for a student who could benefit from our support. I am not exaggerating when I say that he is the primary—and sometimes the only—reason that many of our students have stayed in school, are in college, and are on a positive life path.”