Howe Cup 2015

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This year, as part of our Girls Excellence Initiative, we have formed a team of ten incredible young women to play at the women’s Howe Cup in Boston, MA. The Howe Cup will provide an opportunity for these urban squash girls to compete in an all-women’s tournament, engage with inspiring female professionals, and explore the campus of Harvard University.

We are proud to share the bios and essay responses of our 2015 Howe Cup team as a way for you all to “meet” them. The essay prompt was “what does it mean to ‘run like a girl?’ What does it mean to play squash like a girl?”
Check it out below!

Denise Bonilla, New Haven CT
Hi, my name is Denise Bonilla. I am an 11th grader at Cooperative Arts Magnet High School in New Haven, and have been a member of Squash Haven since 5th grade. In addition to being a member of Squash Haven, I participate in breakdancing, tech crew, and the art and ideas fellowship at my high school. My favorite thing about Squash Haven is that it promotes excellence in both academics and squash. At Howe Cup, I am looking forward to meeting new people and competing against adults for the first time.

Essay quote: “To play squash like a girl is to keep running forward, because no matter how far we think we’ve come, we can always lunge a little farther.”
Full Essay

Emma Montero, New York City
Hi, my name is Emma Montero and I am seventeen years old living in New York City. I am currently a senior at Humanities Preparatory Academy in Chelsea, Manhattan. I grew up in Bronx, NY and live there now with my mother. During my free time, if I’m not searching for colleges, I am catching up on my favorite tv shows such as Empire!!!!

Essay quote: “Why would it matter if I were a girl or that I’m good for a girl? I feel that there is no running for a girl but rather running for yourself.”
Full Essay

Joetta Francis, New York City
Hello, my name is Joetta Francis. I’m 17 years old, and currently in my Senior year of high school at Thurgood Marshall Academy! I’ve been playing squash for about five years, as I started playing in 7th grade. I joined a NUSEA program named StreetSquash located in Harlem and have been there ever since. I love to sing, spend time with my friends, and travel. Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to England to participate in a squash camp with Bryan Patterson. I loved the accents and hope to go back again soon. One squash achievement I’m extremely proud of is winning first place in the C-division of Howe cup last year.

Essay quote: “If you’re a female reading this I encourage you to continue throwing, kicking, punching, hitting, yelling, screaming, jumping, and dreaming LIKE A GIRL!!”
Full Essay

Johanile Hurtado, New Haven CT
Hi, my name is Johanile Hurtado. I’m a 10th grader at Sound School in New Haven and have been a member of Squash Haven since 5th grade. In addition to playing squash, I am also a member of my high school soccer team. I am known on the Squash Haven team for my grit, hard-work, and determination. At Howe Cup, I am looking forward to playing on the same team as other girls from NUSEA for the first time.

Essay quote: “All of us girls have the power to change what it means to “run like a girl”. Although we might feel insulted because someone has said that we “run like a girl”, I will take a stand in changing what it means.”
Full Essay

MaKyla Kelley, Chicago IL
Hi, my name is MaKyla Kelley. I am 15 and joined MetroSquash in 2012. My proudest accomplishment in squash is when I won my first girls under 17 tournament in Kenyon, Ohio. Another one of my proudest accomplishments in squash is when I coached my friend at her first tournament. Another accomplishment in squash that I am proud of is when I won my second silver tournament at MetroSquash. My proudest accomplishment in school is when I was on the honor roll. Another one of my proudest accomplishments in school is when my math team won the math bowl. My dream job is to be a basketball or squash coach. I also want to be a professional basketball or squash player. I love these two sports because it keeps me socially active.

Essay quote: “Squash is about the player not your gender. The sport allows you to play against other genders and have the potential to win.”
Full Essay

Pratiksha Mishra, New Haven CT
Hi, my name is Pratiksha Mishra. I am a 10th grader at Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven. I have been a member of Squash Haven since 6th grade. My favorite subject in school is science, and I am a member of the robotics club. My favorite things about Squash Haven are traveling, making new friends, and competing. At Howe Cup, I am looking forward to the challenge of tournament play as well as representing NUSEA.

Essay quote: “It’s a stereotype saying that girls are less fierce when it comes to things such as sports. For me, running like a girl means to run with all your power and do it with dedication.”
Full Essay

Starnisha Ramsey, Detroit MI
Hi, my name is Starnisha Ramsey. I am 15 and began playing at Racquet Up in 2011. My proudest squash accomplishment is when I was selected to participate in the elite squad at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. Attending this squad made me a better squash player. While I was there, I got help from coaches from other teams. They helped me with my weaknesses and showed me ways to improve them. I spent time with different people from other NUSEA programs. When I got back from the elite squad at Deerfield, I got to show my teammates different drills and fitness routines so they can improve too. My proudest accomplishment in school was my freshman year of high school. At the beginning of my freshman year, I improved a lot from my eighth grade year by studying more and coming to extra help at Racquet Up. At the end of eighth grade my overall GPA was a C-average. By the end of ninth grade, my average was an A- which is a big improvement and that is why it is my proudest accomplishment. My dream job right now is to become a computer science engineer because I’ve always liked to learn about math and certain types of science. Math and science are very important to know to be a good engineer. During the summer, I went to RU Connected Summer Camp and we learned about making websites. That camp marked the beginning of my interest in computer science engineering.

Essay quote: “Yes, I play squash, and I am a girl, so I guess that you can say I play squash like a girl.”
Full Essay

Tanayshia Johnson, Baltimore MD
Hi, my name is Tanayshia Johnson. I am 15 and joined SquashWise in 2013. My proudest accomplishment in squash is making it to the semi-final and 3rd/4th place at the Mid Atlantic Championship at Kenyon College. My coaches were very happy to see that I made it that far this year. In school, my proudest accomplishment is getting A’s and B’s in all my classes. It was all thanks to my coaches and my mom standing behind me the whole time while I was in 8th grade. My dream job is to run my own business to help the homeless people or be a RN. The reason why I want to help the homeless is because it breaks my heart to see people who once had a place to live and money but don’t anymore. So I made a choice to help them in any way I can.

Essay quote: “I have shown my teammates that playing like a girl means to be on top of your game, to show up to practice on time, and to help other teammates when they are struggling.”
Full Essay

Victoria Haghighi, Bronx NY
Hi, my name is Victoria Haghighi. I am 14 and have been part of CitySquash since 2012. My proudest accomplishment in squash was winning a junior tournament at Pyramid Squash when I was in the 6th grade. I could have easily lost the 5th game in my finals match, but I pulled through with the win. I felt really proud of this because it was my first year playing squash. My proudest accomplishment in school was getting 100% on one of my physics labs this year at the Brooks School. I was proud especially because I have never taken physics before and I also have a hard time in math. My dream job would be playing professional squash because I want to keep on playing this amazing sport. If I don’t qualify for professional squash then I would want to become a lawyer because it is very interesting and helpful to our community.

Essay quote: “Girls shouldn’t be judged on myths and rumors. We should be encouraged to do what we want and try our hardest at all times so that these myths will disappear altogether.”
Full Essay

Zaira Paredes, Santa Barbara CA
Hello, my name is Zaira Parades. I am 16 years old and started playing squash at the Santa Barbara School of Squash program in 2012. Since starting at SBSOS, my goal has been to improve myself both on and off court. Before SBSOS I was a very timid girl, but thanks to the program I am a more confident, better version of myself. Going to Stanford Squads Camp last summer was a great accomplishment for me. I picked up many skills and tips from professionals and met many great people who I was able to connect with like I had never before. My proudest academic accomplishment would be getting accepted to attend Laguna Blanca School. Taking that leap from public to private school, leaving everyone I knew and was familiar with is one of the hardest but best decisions I have ever made and definitely my proudest. Since being there, my biggest accomplishment is improving my time management. Being able to handle stage management, running cross country, playing squash and maintaining a 3.9 GPA is something I thought I would never be able to do all at the same time. In 5th grade I discovered that I loved math and drawing, so in 6th grade I decided I wanted to be an architect. My dream job since then has been to be a hardworking and well known architect that designs and builds homes for people who need them. All of my services would be dedicated to people who can’t afford to buy a house or those who are finding their way. Using my career and abilities to help others has always been a part of my dream job as well.

Essay quote: “Running like a girl means running after your dreams, chasing what you know is yours.”
Full Essay