The Staples High School squash program is only 2 years old.
But in at least one respect, it’s similar to other, much longer established varsity sports: community service.
Last year, Shane Fries helped form Staples’ boys and girls squash teams. His dad introduced him to the game. As he took lessons he was attracted to its competitiveness, both individually and with teammates.
Last year he and fellow Stapleites Kion Bruno and Mia Krishnamurthy wanted to start a squash club. Athletic director Marty Lisevick gave approval for varsity status. They compete in the Fairwest League against Connecticut and Westchester public schools, and add private schools to the schedule too.
The athletes fund the venture themselves. They pay for court time — last year at Southport Racquet Club, now at Intensity. Costs range from $700 to $1,000 per player.
But they also raise money for others.
With the mission of using the sport to help students get into college, the National Urban Squash & Education Association runs a coaching and tutoring program called Street Squash.
In mid-March, Shane joined Staples students Jack Bautista, Tyler Edwards and Chloe Palumbo, plus Bedford Middle School’s Quinn McMahon, New Canaan’s Tara Chugh, St. Luke’s Haley Bloch and Street Squash player Nasir Finch at the Street Squash Junior Cup in Harlem.
Each team committed to raising as much money as possible. Thanks to anchor donor Jen Gabler, Staples players and their friends, the Wreckers donated over $12,000 to the program. The entire event brought in $82,000.
“Squash is a big part of my life,” Fries — who also plays rugby — says. “Helping kids succeed through the sport is really cool.”
He’ll keep doing what he can. NUSEA runs a squash and education program in New Haven. That’s where Shane — who in his spare time is a Top Hat tutor — will spend his one-month senior internship in May, coaching and offering academic support.