Harlem: New Squash Epicenter?

Not exactly, but teens are using the traditionally-preppy sport as an inroad to college...

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So much for hoop dreams.

For some young men and women in Harlem, the program StreetSquash has promoted achievement through squash's athletic rigor and a focus on academic excellence. With affiliate groups in the Bronx, Philadelphia and Boston, the National Urban Squash and Education Association is focused on a commitment to urban youth. As one club founder told THE NEW YORK TIMES, "this isn't just about rounding up kids and putting them on a squash court on Saturdays."

Indeed, it is about exposure and connection. StreetSquash,who initially ran its program at Columbia University and the Harvard Club, forged a relationship with the former university upon opening of it own facility this past November. In addition to receiving payment from the university for use of it facility, StreetSquash benefits from mentoring and tutoring from the university's student-athletes.

Many StreetSquash alums will not participate in the sport at the next level or will attend schools that offer it and some see this as ironic. That assertion though, entirely misses the point: Participation in the sport is a vehicle to open doors previously closed and expand horizons previously narrow.

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