Ball is in Their Court
A StreetSquash participant strategizes during a dodge
ball game in Ainsworth Gym.
Earlier this month, four Smith
students hosted a field day for two dozen middle-school students
from StreetSquash, a program based in Harlem that uses
squash as a “hook” to
engage kids in enrichment activities.
The event was part of the course Education Through the Physical:
Youth Sports (ESS 225), taught by Don Siegel, professor of
exercise and sport studies. The students planned and orchestrated
a variety of activities for the visitors with the goal of
helping them develop their communication and teambuilding
StreetSquash combines academic
tutoring, squash instruction, college preparation, community
service and mentoring for urban youth. The program is a member
of the National Urban Squash and Education Association (NUSEA),
which is comprised of five programs from across the U.S.
from San Diego to New York City. (Two members of the Smith
Williams ’11 and Jacinth Cooke ’11—are
from Boston's SquashBusters, the first of the Urban Squash
The StreetSquash field day was
a culmination of two months of planning by the Smith students.
The morning began with introductions and a “human knot” activity
to highlight the importance of communication. The activities
then began to pick up in intensity, as the children competed
in traditional playground games such as kickball and dodge
“These children were ready to go from the moment they walked into the
gym and their energy and excitement was contagious,” said Caitlyn Tobias ’09,
one of the coordinators of the day. “It was rewarding
to see them enjoying themselves so much and knowing the exercise
they were engaging in was beneficial to their health and
development. Although there were moments filled with chaos,
I think overall everyone involved enjoyed themselves and
the day was a success.”
Fellow coordinator Jessica Welk ’11 admitted some parts
of the day were difficult to managae. “But I learned
so much from the children and had a great time working with
them,” she added.
The day concluded with a buffet lunch and a group discussion
in which the children talked about what they learned and
As they packed up to return
home, the Smith students presented each participant with
a customized certificate of recognition. While the certificates
were a tangible souvenir from their trip to Northampton,
their experience of a place very different from their hometown
of Harlem will likely stay with them much longer.