2019 Urban Team Nationals Winners

High School

A Division
Boys – StreetSquash Harlem
Girls – SquashBusters

B Division
Boys  – SquashBusters
Girls – SquashBusters

C Division
Boys  – StreetSquash Harlem
Girls – SquashSmarts

Middle School

A Division
Boys  – CitySquash
Girls  – Squash Urbano Colombia

B Division
Boys  – Steel City Squash
Girls  – CitySquash

C Division
Boys  – SquashWise
Girls  – Urban Squash Cleveland

Elementary School

Boys  – CitySquash
Girls  – CitySquash


Academic Contest

Prompt A
Many organizations have values they name that are important to them. One of SEA’s values is Opportunity. We work to enable and empower our students to access and succeed in high-quality educational, athletic, and career opportunities. What is one of your core values, and how does it influence your everyday life?

Prompt B
Show us what inspires you in your community, and tell us how you inspire others.


Mia Rogers, Hamilton College’s Senior Assistant Dean of Admission & Director of Diversity Recruitment, presented students with their trophies. 

High School
Marangela James
SquashBusters Boston

The world is full of many things. Everyday I learn something new, experience something new and  do something new; there is never a dull moment. Someone once told me, “Every day may not be a good day, but there is good in every day.” Looking at the bright side of life is what those around me do best,  inspiring me to do the same. Communities are not just the place you live in. They are also the places and  people you surround yourself with. It is important you surround yourself with the same energy you wish  to feel.

I live in Mattapan, which is considered to be a dangerous neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts, with high crime rates and many issues like drug addiction and poverty. The people never let these negative aspects show. In my neighborhood, everyone is warm, welcoming and friendly. The people here in Mattapan help each other, with things like bringing up the groceries for those who struggle, or other little tasks like that, everyday. My local corner store does not always get the best business, but the store manager understands that many people are not able to afford certain items within the store. He lets them get what they need with the trust that they will pay the store back, sometimes even letting them work off what they owe. In my community there are many homeless people, they could either chose to see the negative in their life or use it to fuel something positive, which is exactly what they do. On snowing days I see them plowing my back lot, and when I am leaving for school at six in the morning, I witness them cleaning the streets. Despite all the challenges faced, people there never miss a day to just smile on. Sometimes, living in an area that is clouded with negativity can make it hard for even a positive person like myself to see past all of that, especially those who are trying to be the light for others. My home community inspires me to see the good in every bad situation, even when it is difficult to do so. Also it shows me the world is not as selfish as it is made out to be. I want to do more selfless acts to benefit all of my communities. Thanks to Mattapan, I understand the world is more than just myself, so, thank you Mattapan.

In SquashBusters, another important community, there is inspiration all around me. For instance, one of my big inspirations is my coach, Ness. She is one of the hardest working people I have met. Ness shows me that if I ever want to go somewhere or be someone, I have to work for it. Ness traveled here from Malaysia to play for the Bates College squash team. While at Bates, she battled her way up the women’s ladder, placing number one and remaining there for all four years. Ness has been a part of some
of the most memorable memories I have at SquashBusters, which I know will stay with me years to come. I inspire to leave a mark on SquashBusters just like Ness has already left a mark on me.SquashBusters is not all about playing squash; I often learn valuable life lessons that allow me to be the best version of myself. I remember entering into the high school program not knowing what would become of me, but here I am three years later, through hard work and dedication, placing number one on the high school girls ladder. SquashBusters inspires me to think more highly of myself because I am worth it. If I could send that message to other students then I will know I am doing the right thing. So, thank you SquashBusters.

Inspiration is made up of the little and the big things. It is the visible and invisible forces that makes us want to do the things we do. I will continue to be inspired by the world I live in and hopefully you will to. “Stay hungry, Stay foolish” ∼ Steve Jobs

Middle School
Joelangie Arias Soto
SquashBusters Boston

My character is a hardworking young woman who has to work hard to achieve her dream. I modeled my character after myself but in a more exaggerated way because I know that there are people who struggle more than myself. With determination this person reached her dream. Persevering is getting knocked down, but determination is taking that leap of faith. Giving up everything you have and always trying harder to cross that finish line. That for me is determination.

Determination is highly important to me because I’ve always gone for what I want. I have very big dreams that cause me to always look for opportunities and try my hardest. I know that sometimes there are risks needed to be taken, and opportunities that I can’t afford to lose. I work very hard on everything I do, and also look for anything that can help my future career. As a young woman that lives in an urban neighborhood there aren’t many opportunities handed to me. I need determination to earn those opportunities, and show that I deserve everything I’m getting.

Ever since I was young I’ve tried my best to be a good student. Any path in which the opportunity is greater I’ll take, so I can ensure a successful future. I decided to draw a young struggling woman because she is inspired by me. Even if I don’t struggle the most I do struggle to find those opportunities which will boost me to the top. Just like she climbed the ladder I have, working extremely hard. To achieve my goal I have to wake up at six (6) in the morning or earlier . Everyday I determine myself to do better at school, and at any other activities such as squash. There are very difficult days where I don’t do my best, and I then ensure to do my best the next day. Due to the reasons stated earlier I drew my character climbing the ladder, from rock bottom to crossing the finish line. She achieved her goal after all the hard work, hopefully someday that girl will be me.

Elementary School
Stephanie Silva
CitySquash Bronx

One core value that is very important to me is Empathy. I have three reasons why empathy is my core value. The first reason why empathy is my core value is because empathy has shown me many things. It has shown me that people go through what you go through. Before I even joined Citysquash it was hard to make friends. It was hard for me to open my mouth and say something like hi or a hello. Just imagine that people make fun of you for no reason or even make you uncomfortable. That is what I felt. People just throw mean words at you, they just talk behind your back saying what they don´t like about you. It was hard because a lot of people made fun of my unibrow. But over the time I learned to love myself for who I am. I also learned that my close friend Elina was mostly judged because she would get mad very easily. No one would want to be her friend because they thought she would get mad at them, but I gave it a try. We have been really good friends ever since. She is not what other people thought or what other people imagine she would be. When I saw her I even thought the same thing. Should I be her friend? What if she gets mad at me. But I did know something that we both had in common. We were both being made fun of. No one knew us well. No one could even give us a chance. But one day I had enough. I got myself together and walked up to Elina. “Hey! Do you want to be friends?” I said. Elina just stared at me with confusion. Of course we were small but I knew she had an opportunity to have a friend. But hey I gave it a try. I promise not everything that people say is true.           

My second reason why Empathy is my core value is because It has shown me that other people’s feelings matter. It was a year and a half since I joined CitySquash. It was hard when I couldn’t help my other teammate because I didn’t understand how my friends felt. But empathy changed that. I once helped my friend Allison. I had Empathy for her. Stress was the problem here. Sometimes stress can overpower your confidence and it is hard to overcome this. But with friendship anything can overcome this. Allison was very stressed. You could tell that she had stress on her face. I helped her because she was my friend and I went through this. Of course she got better. I could help her because she went through the same thing I went through. I could relate to what she went through.

My third and last reason why empathy is my core value is because Empathy shows that you care for other people. For example, empathy can help you feel what other people feel. It shows that you’re there for them no matter what. They know you care about them. Ashley is my BEST FRIEND. She knows that I am here for her through the darkest times. She knows that I care for her. I know sometimes it is hard for people to open up and say something but you have to let them know that you are there for them. Ready to listen, ready to comfort them. Ashley has helped me to open up to myself, to have more confidence, to be myself. I thank her because since I met her I know how other people feel. I know what to feel for other people. I have been through MOST of the things that would make you upset. Trust me, I have been through every single one. Well most of them. Empathy has came into my life and shown me that things matter, feelings matter, caring matters, support matters, everything matters. This is why empathy is my core value.

Runners Up

High School
Melissa Gray

My family, friends, school, and community have taught me many things. They have taught me how to speak, how to tie my shoes, how to read and write. They have taught me a lot of useful skills and values that I would need to be successful, and over the years I have learned that to be able to succeed in such an interconnected world, open mindedness is a necessary trait to have. To me, open mindedness is the most important value anyone could have; it is like a building block for other important values, and it allows us, as people, to come together and become greater than we would be on our own.

In this country, and even the rest of the world, people are suffering because of our leaders’ inabilities and unwillingness to be open minded. Particularly in the United States, the political parties have refused to consider any other views but their own on issues like health care, immigration, border control, and many other important topics. Because of this, our government has been shut down, the parties are at an impasse, government workers are suffering, and the people are being ignored. If the people running the government had been able to keep an open mind to different ways of solving the country’s problems, they would have been able to compromise and come to an agreement, and so many innocent people, the people they are supposed to be protecting and serving, wouldn’t be having their lives ruined by this crisis. This is why open mindedness is the most important value to me.

With the way our country is, open mindedness is an even more essential value to me. I don’t want to be the way our politicians and leaders are today. I want to be able to listen to others and cooperate rather than force my opinions on them. I want to be able to sit down and have a real conversation with my Trump-supporting teacher rather than ignoring him because he doesn’t agree with me. I want to be able to ask my dad why he supports Kavanaugh and get real answers. I want to have these discussions because it is important to realize that differing opinions can be equally valid, and that is what open mindedness is, at least to me: being able to realize that there are multiple ways to see things, that different ways work for different people, and being able to accept that and know that there is nothing wrong with it. I don’t necessarily have to agree, I just have to be willing to listen.

Middle School
Louis Sulsona
Capitol Squash

My math class begins every day with a sprint. It is not a running sprint like in squash. Instead, it is different equations you have to do as quickly as possible. I previously did not like math because it was difficult. I started loving math last year because of Ms. Murphy. She is really creative in teaching and it has helped me to learn faster and understand math more. My class finds Ms. Murphy helpful because she makes up unique ways to teach the lessons. She has influenced me in a couple of ways. She helped me to fall in love with math and she helped me get the confidence and willingness to help my classmates.
Having class with Ms. Murphy has improved my math skills. I enjoy counting money during math class and sometimes I help my parents to double check when they are paying rent. My skills have improved a lot and I can now count faster and accurately. I have been inspired to want to be a banker when I grow up. I want to be a banker and meet new people at my job. I want to make friends while doing what I really love to do best.

Although it was always hard understanding math with previous teachers, Ms. Murphy inspired me by using different ways to teach my class. This has helped me realize that I can also inspire others in my community.

I inspire others by exposing them to different things. For example, I am the first person in my family to participate in a private school summer program. When I was accepted into the SEA Summer Program at Taft, my family and I were very excited. It made us realize that we can get into private schools with hard work and support like we get from Capitol Squash. Now one of my younger brothers wants to go to private school too.

I also inspire my brothers with squash. I have really excelled at the sport and my brothers are determined to beat me one day. I inspire others in my community by volunteering to read to first and second graders.

My friends tell me that I inspire them to want to maintain better grades in school like I do. My favorite quote is “To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible”. I like this quote because it is great to be inspired, but you also need to have the goal to inspire others. I also like it because when you inspire someone it feels like you have accomplished something big. When Ms. Murphy inspires me, it helps me reach my goals. When I inspire others, it helps them to reach their goals.

Elementary School
Josh Mercurio
716 Squash

My core value in life is adventure. When I travel we go with other family. We hike, ski, swim and do other things, too. Adventure inspires me because even when it is hard or scary, you get the hang of it and adjust to it over time. My favorite hike was Mount Crane. I liked it because there was awesome stuff to climb, there were rocks, and the sight at the top of the mountain was wonderful. We saw all of the other mountains. It was like ruling all of the mountains in sight. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains so I am not going to list them all but I’ll name a few:

  • Whiteface – there was snow at the very top. This is located in Lake, Placid, where
    my Aunt and Uncle just got married!
  • Blueberry Hurricane – There was a fire tower on the top.
  • Ampersand – One of the Saranac 6 hikes.
  • Hike of the Gods – That is in Italy, where I went in the summer to visit family. Hiking inspires me because when I am hiking I feel like I am on a mission to explore the mountains and reach the top.

Another form of adventure that inspires me in my everyday life is skiing. Now I am taking lessons at Holiday Valley with my mom. We also ski in Montana with family. In Montana, the mountain was so high that it poked through the clouds and it was hard to breath. My first time skiing was on a bunny hill. I was scared and crying but it was my first time so I was still little and small. In Montana while we were traveling, we explored Yellowstone National Park with my parents. We saw Old Faithful and when it erupted it was so cool I can’t even explain it. There was HOT water blowing 20-30 feet in the air; it was awesome. We also saw a buffalo hoof in one of the orange hot water ponds it made “ssssssss” when it was melting. Skiing inspires me because I like when you are at the to of the mountain ready to go and you feel scared. Then you go and it’s not so bad when you take that first step.

Swimming is another form of adventure that inspires me in my everyday life even though it is not my favorite. I tried out for my school swim team and I did well. Over the summer, I swam with my cousins and my dad was throwing us in the pool. I have also swam in Schroon lake while we were on a hiking trip. My sister is a champion at swimming so it runs in my blood. Even though I am not the best swimmer, swimming taught me that it is good to be brave and to do new things in life even if I do not like it. That is why swimming inspires me.

I also inspire other people by bringing them on those awesome trips because my friends don’t get to do them. When I see their faces they seem happy so my family invites others to have fun. We brought my cousins to go skiing and friends to go hiking and they came because they wanted to come with me. Also my friends never used to go hiking with my parents before I came and before we were a family. So they come with us. Now, I inspire other people by helping them to do things they normally would not.

Those are most of the things about adventure that inspire and impact me in my everyday life. They inspire me because they make me happy and it is good to get outside. The things that inspire me are all similar because they are scary at first. In real life, I have dealt with things that are scary at first too. One thing was switching schools.

This was hard at first but when I took that first step it was not so bad even if I miss my other friends at my other school, I have always made more friends at my new school. Another thing that was scary at first was moving in with my foster family. It was scary at first because I had to get used to new people and live in a new home. I also missed my biological family. After a a while it wasn’t so bad because I still get to see my biological family. Adventure inspires me because at first it is scary but each time I do it, it gets easier and easier. Just like in real life, things that inspire you can teach you a life lesson.