SEA was founded in 2005 by Greg Zaff, George Polsky, Steve Gregg and Tim Wyant, the leaders of the country’s first four urban squash programs. SEA was then NUSEA: the National Urban Squash & Education Association. It was nine years after the first urban squash program was launched in Boston, and urban squash was excelling. New cities were clamoring to launch similar organizations. But existing programs were missing out on the opportunity to formally share knowledge and learn from one another, and new programs had no obvious place to turn for guidance. Best practices, while implicitly understood, had not been explicitly defined and evaluated. There existed no organized blueprint or structure for doing the work of urban squash. SEA set out to do all of these important functions, acting as the catalyst, organizer, and overseer of urban squash’s improvement and growth. US Squash, the national governing body of the sport, partnered with SEA, and William E. Simon Jr., became the Board Chair.
1995 – Two years after writing a graduate student term paper entitled ‘Bringing Squash Down from the Ivory Tower, the Creation of an Urban Squash and Education Program’, former professional squash player Greg Zaff launches SquashBusters in Boston. The after-school program, which serves 28 students from two public middle schools, is the first of its kind to combine the sport of squash with academic tutoring, mentoring and community service activities. With a $75,000 budget and an ‘office’ in Greg’s apartment, SquashBusters runs practices and tutoring sessions at the Boston YMCA, the Harvard Club of Boston, and Harvard University.
1999 – George Polsky, a teacher and social worker and former Harvard squash player, launches StreetSquash in Harlem. The program runs practices out of the Harvard Club of New York and Columbia University… Two SquashBusters students win scholarships to private high schools, the first of many urban squash players to do so.
2000 – A group of Philadelphia squash enthusiasts – Matt Stern, Lisa Stokes, Andy Nehrbas, Pam Ende, Ben Desombre and Fred Guyott – launch SquashSmarts in partnership with Drexel University in West Philadelphia.
2002 – Sanford Schwartz, a squash player and squash parent, starts CitySquash on the Bronx campus of Fordham University, giving the Big Apple a second urban squash program.
2003 – SquashBusters opens the $6 million Badger-Rosen Youth Center, with eight squash courts and three classrooms, on the campus of Northeastern University… Groton School, a boarding school in Groton, MA, hosts the inaugural Urban Individual Nationals. The event draws more than 100 players from the country’s four urban squash programs.
2004 – The inaugural Urban Team Nationals is held in Boston at SquashBusters, drawing students from Boston, Harlem, the Bronx and Philadelphia.
2005 – The leaders of the country’s four urban squash programs — Steve Gregg, George Polsky, Tim Wyant, and Greg Zaff — co-found the National Urban Squash and Education Association (now called the Squash and Education Alliance) in partnership with U.S. SQUASH… Conor O’Malley, a teaching pro in Chicago, founds METROsquash. Based at the University of Chicago, the program is the first outside of the East Coast.
2006 – SquashSmarts’s Tempest Bowden becomes the first urban squash player to qualify for the U.S. Nationals, an event open to the country’s top 32 players.
2007 – Annick Winokur, Pug Winokur and a group of Yale University-affiliated squash supporters launch Squash Haven at Yale in New Haven, CT… Led by Greg Scherman and Chris Walker, a group of San Diego squash enthusiasts start Surf City Squash, now Access Youth Academy, giving the West Coast its first urban squash program… SquashSmarts’s $12 million Lenfest Center, with eight squash courts and three classrooms, opens in North Philadelphia.
2008 – With Hillary Clinton in attendance, the $9 million S.L. Green StreetSquash Youth Center, with eight courts and four classrooms, opens in Harlem. Impact360 (formerly known as MileHigh Squash), founded by Greg Courter, launches at the Denver Athletic Club… Assisted by a SEA challenge grant, a group of squash players in Baltimore, including Charlie Wise, Nancy Cushman, Peter Heffernan, and Abby Markoe, launch SquashWise at the Meadow Mill Athletic Club.
2009 – Days after being admitted to Cornell University, CitySquash’s Jesse Pacheco finishes 5th in the Under 19 division of the U.S. Open, one of the world’s most competitive junior squash tournaments.
2010 – SEA launches Racquet Up, its 10th member program, at the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit… The $1 million renovation of the Fordham University-CitySquash Squash Center is completed.
2011 – SEA launches Beyond Walls in Minneapolis – St. Paul… SquashBuster Yuleissy Ramirez begins her freshman year at Harvard University, becoming the first urban squash player to attend the country’s oldest college.
2012 – First Lady Michelle Obama promotes Let’s Move!, her nutrition and health initiative, at SquashSmarts’s Lenfest Center… Access Youth Academy’s Reyna Pacheco is admitted to Columbia University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship… The Santa Barbara School of Squash becomes SEA’s 12th member program and the West Coast’s 2nd… StreetSquash and SquashBusters launch satellite programs, in Newark, NJ and Lawrence, MA respectively… The Urban Squads program is launched to provide more intensive training opportunities for urban squash’s hardest working and most accomplished players… The combined enrollment of year-round students at SEA’s 12 member programs tops 1,000 students.
2013 – Oakland’s SquashDrive, founded by executive director Lauren Patrizio, Urban Squash Cleveland, and StreetSquash Newark, become SEA’s 13th, 14th, and 15th members, respectively… The Midwestern Urban Squash Championships, the first major urban squash tournament held outside the northeastern United States, takes place at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio… SEA’s International Fund, aimed at developing and engaging urban squash programs abroad, is launched.
2014 – SEA helps launch four new programs: Cincinnati Squash Academy, Capitol Squash in Hartford, CT, Steel City Squash in Pittsburgh, PA, and Squash Urbano Colombia in Cartagena… SEA welcomes three programs to be International Affiliates: Urban Squash Toronto, Egoli Squash in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Khelshala in Chandigarh, India.
2015 – With 20 programs across the country and around the world now operating under its umbrella, SEA celebrates Urban Squash’s 20th Anniversary Weekend in New York City. Over 1,250 people attend the three days of events and raise $2 million for urban squash. The weekend’s highlight is the Gala Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, honoring two decades of urban squash milestones and including a welcome video greeting by First Lady Michelle Obama. SEA welcomes Kids on Point, (formerly known as Chucktown Squash) of Charleston, SC as its 18th member program… MetroSquash opens its facility with eight courts, four classrooms and offices on the South Side of Chicago…CitySquash opens its second outpost in Brooklyn, NY.
2016 – Squash Urbano Colombia joins SEA as its first South American International Affiliate. SEA welcomes Steel City Squash, in Pittsburgh, PA, as its 19th member program.
2017 – Wilmington’s First State Squash, a program launched by SEA, completes its first year of operation…SquashBusters Providence opens its doors with a 12-court facility partnering with Moses Brown School…This organization changes its name from NUSEA to SEA: Squash and Education Alliance.
2018 – Hope Blinkoff Lynch, a seven-year veteran of the staff of Baltimore’s SquashWise, partners with SEA to start 716 Squash in her native Buffalo.