Squash players regularly tell me how much the sport has impacted their lives for the better. Health. Fitness. Friendship. Sportsmanship. Respect. Resilience. These are benefits, experiences and learned qualities which are so valuable and last a lifetime.
Early on as a teaching professional, I was vexed to the core by a paradox: the potential squash had to improve people’s lives contrasted with the severely limited opportunities for people to access the sport. It never lost its grip on me, and when the chance to address it by leading US Squash presented itself, I jumped. The desire to resolve this paradox has motivated me, and I know our board and staff share this goal.
Nearly all sports, businesses and organizations desire growth—whether in participation, revenue or impact. Regardless of the pursuit, those passionate about what they do as a hobby or profession naturally want others to be involved in it. For sports, there is also a higher purpose. Lifelong physical activity is scientifically proven to improve physical and mental health. Four in ten Americans are obese. One in six adults regularly take psychiatric medication. Recent studies have concluded that kids in their early teens are dropping out of sports at an alarming rate, and it’s unclear exactly why.
The national emergence of urban squash and education programs has started to make an impact on one end of a long continuum of opportunity to enjoy the sport and its benefits, from those who have the least all the way to those who have the most. The Specter Center will be home to US Squash’s efforts to walk the talk: to welcome the entire community, to show the country what our vision is, to teach and share best practices, and to listen and to learn. We will pilot and model the programs that will make the opportunity to play the sport for life a day-to-day reality.
Community-based access programs will introduce squash to thousands of new players who will be exposed to our core values of inclusivity, integrity and innovation—all while having fun and staying fit and active. By stepping into the Specter Center, we will start our journey as a sport towards filling the middle of the continuum and finally moving in the direction of unlimited potential and opportunity for squash.
This is what motivates us, and what excites us about the future for squash in the U.S.