Harlem: New Squash Epicenter?

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


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.

The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.