SEA was founded in 2005 by Greg Zaff, George Polsky, Steve Gregg and Tim Wyant, the leaders of the country’s first four squash and education programs. SEA was then NUSEA: the National Urban Squash & Education Association. It was nine years after the first program was launched in Boston, and the squash and education model was excelling. While new cities were clamoring to launch similar organizations, existing programs were missing out on the opportunity to formally share knowledge and learn from one another. 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 this work. SEA set out to do all of these important functions, acting as the catalyst, organizer, and overseer of the model’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, 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 network 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 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 member programs.
2004 – The inaugural SEA 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 programs — Steve Gregg, George Polsky, Tim Wyant, and Greg Zaff — co-found the Squash and Education Alliance (originally named National Urban Squash and Education Association) in partnership with US 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 player in the SEA network 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 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. … 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 Jessenia 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 network 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… SquashBusters launches a satellite program, in Lawrence, MA… SEA’s High Performance Team is launched to provide more intensive training opportunities for the network’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, and Urban Squash Cleveland become SEA’s 13th and 14th members, respectively… The Midwest Championships, SEA’s first major tournament held outside the northeastern United States, takes place at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio… SEA’s International Fund, aimed at developing and engaging squash and education 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 – SEA celebrates the network’s 20th Anniversary in New York City. Over 1,250 people attend the three days of events and raise $2 million for the network. The weekend’s highlight is the Gala Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, honoring two decades of squash and education milestones and including a welcome video greeting by First Lady Michelle Obama. SEA welcomes Kids on Point of Charleston, SC as its 17th member program… MetroSquash opens its facility with eight courts, four classrooms and offices on the South Side of Chicago.
2016 – Squash Urbano Colombia joins SEA as its first South American International Affiliate. SEA welcomes Steel City Squash, in Pittsburgh, PA, as its 18th 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. 716 Squash officially joins the SEA network as the 19th member program. SquashBond Israel becomes SEA’s fifth international affiliate program…. Chicago’s MetroSquash partners with the McGaw YMCA to introduce a second program site in Evanston…Urban Squash Cleveland and Kids on Point celebrate the grand openings of state of the art facilities – a Youth Development Center at Urban Community School in Cleveland and a Squash Center at the College of Charleston… CitySquash alumnus and former Director of Squash Chris Fernandez accepts a position as Dickinson College’s Head Squash Coach, the first graduate in the network to accept a college coaching position.
2019– Rally Portland, of Portland Community Squash in Maine, becomes SEA’s 19th U.S. member program.
2020 – Over 1,200 people gathered in the Grand Ballroom of New York City’s Midtown Hilton to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the SEA network. The Jubilee raises $3.2 million and features a show-stopping speech by StreetSquash graduate Rakey Drammeh.
2021 – SEA launches Pathways to Excellence, a transformational 5-year campaign to improve educational, athletic, and career outcomes and catalyze growth across the SEA network…Access Youth Academy opens a $12 million facility in San Diego with four classrooms and seven singles courts and one doubles court… SquashWise acquires the former terminal in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, which will become a community center and permanent home for the Maryland program.
2022 – Racquet Up Detroit moves into its newly-built educational and youth development center, which is equipped with eight squash courts, three classrooms, a college and career center, and two study lounges…SquashSmarts moves its West Philadelphia operation into the Arlen Specter US Squash Center, one of the world’s largest squash facilities located on the campus of Drexel University.
2023 – Wilmington’s First State Squash completes a $2 million capital campaign and moves into its new 28,000 square foot facility, with classrooms, offices, and six squash courts.