SPAtlight: Lauren Patrizio Xaba

C96A9181Lauren Patrizio Xaba –Executive Director, Squash Drive, San Francisco, CA

I’m originally from Philadelphia. The first person l played squash with was Bill Lane. I played one day of hard ball and then switched to softball. I have been on the west coast for 13 years now. The squash culture on the east coast and west coast are very similar. There are not as many players here as there are on the east coast. Even though it is smaller, the community is tight knit and supportive. West coast squash is growing rapidly and it has been exciting to be a part of the growth of the game out here.

I played squash at the University of Pennsylvania. We were fortunate enough to win a National Championship my junior year in 2000. Our team worked so hard the whole year and at the end we were undefeated National Champions. This was a feeling and a moment I will never forget.

SquashDrive is an out-of-school academic and squash program similar to the other urban squash programs around the country and internationally. Since we are on the west coast we have the unique opportunity to send our top performers in the classroom and on the courts via airplane, often for their first time, to other cities to compete at National Urban Squash and Education Association (NUSEA) events. We are also in the heart of Silicon Valley and in close proximity to lots of innovative tech startups and companies so we have been focusing a lot of our energy on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) which gives our student-athletes an entirely different perspective on the world.

I play mostly local doubles tournaments with the occasional singles competition. I don’t get to train regularly, but still love to play whenever I can.

My husband Busani is a squash professional. We end up talking about squash a lot at home. I’m so lucky that Busani is so supportive of SquashDrive, both by helping to spread awareness as well as by giving our students opportunities whenever possible at the University Club of SF where he coaches. When not working, we like to get out of the city and explore the greater Bay Area. We like to visit wine country and Tahoe and often visit friends in different cities.

I want to play with Jonah Barrington. I have met him once at Millfield when Busani and I were there with Ian Thomas. It would be an amazing experience to play with a man that has done so much for the game, helping it be what it is today.