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Private School Squash Programs Broaden their Appeal

The Sport of Squash Moves Beyond Boarding Schools

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Private School Squash Programs Broaden their Appeal

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Squash, a sport once largely confined to boarding schools, is getting more and more popular and moving beyond private schools. According to U.S. Squash, there are now 500,000 squash players across the country, and over 150 schools have squash teams. While squash has always been a popular sport at boarding schools, now public schools in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey also have teams, and leagues have started in traditionally underrepresented areas such as Harlem and the Bronx, South Boston, and South Chicago. These teams are important, as they have helped a number of their squash players to attend colleges---an opportunity that may not have otherwise been available to them. As more and more young people learn the joys of playing, participation in junior squash leagues is growing by leaps and bounds. Here's a brief introduction to this sport, which has been an important part of boarding school culture since St. Paul's built the first court in the U.S. in 1884.

How Squash is Played

Squash is a racquet sport for two players (or four players in doubles). The court is surrounded by four walls. After the serve, players take turns keeping the ball in play by hitting it against the front wall or the side or back walls. The ball must stay above the tin, which is the bottom line of the front wall, or below the out line. The out line starts at the top of the front wall, goes down along the side walls, and then crosses the back wall. After hitting the front wall, the ball can only hit the floor once before a player returns it, and players move about the court to keep the ball in play. Players enjoy the constant action of the game, and squash gives players a rigorous cardiovascular workout.

The History of Squash

Squash is a descendant of tennis, which originally involved swatting balls about with gloves. Later, a game called rackets developed in Fleet, an English debtors' prison; it was played with a hard ball but without nets; instead, players bounced a hard, un-squeezable ball off walls. Squash itself developed out of a variety of games played at schools. Harrow in England was the first school to use a squeezable rubber ball to play squash. St. Paul's School in New Hampshire built the first American squash court in 1884. Squash is considered an Olympic-level sport, but it is not currently part of the Olympics.

Schools with Squash Teams

Most of the schools that have squash teams, for both girls and boys, are located in the Northeast, particularly in Massachusetts and Connecticut. While squash clubs have sprung up across the country, they are most plentiful in the Northeast. For example, the state of Massachusetts has 526 courts, while the state of Oklahoma has only three. Members of the Interscholastic Squash Association include the following (this is not a complete list of schools with squash teams, and more teams are developing at public and private schools):

The U.S. High School Championships now feature about 140 teams and over 1,200 players. U.S. Squash also recently started a Middle School Championships, in which about 30 teams participate.

Getting Your Child Involved in Squash

Squash was recently ranked as the number-one sport in an article in Forbes. The constant movement in squash keeps players in top cardiovascular health, and the sport also builds muscles, while the risk of injury is fairly low. Thirty minutes of play burns, according to the article, over 500 calories. Squash teams are a growing part of many high schools, and both girls and boys can get involved. Here's more information about how to start your child in squash.

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