NYC’s Thurgood Marshall Academy Boys Squash Team is First All-Black Team to Compete In Nationals

A high school in Harlem is making history as they head down to Philadelphia today. According to CBS New York, the Thurgood Marshall Academy boy’s squash team will be the first all-Black team to participate in the national high school championships.

The boys learned about the sport through StreetSquash, a nonprofit organization located in Harlem.

Simba Muhwati, the academy’s coach, grew up playing squash in Zimbabwe before competing in the sport as a collegiate athlete.

“It was super affluent here and the rest of the world; it’s not,” Muhwati stated. “It’s actually pretty middle class and below.”

After playing the sport for years, last semester, they petitioned The Thurgood Marshall Academy to have squash as an official sport, which permitted them to enter the national high school tournament.

“Being the only all-Black team, we broke a lot of stereotypes, and it’s deeper than squash,” said one player, Harlem Jones. “Squash has opened a lot of doors for me.”

StreetSquash’s website states that every team is guaranteed to play at least three matches throughout the weekend in Philadelphia. StreetSquash will have three separate teams participating at SEA (Squash  & Education Alliance) Team Nationals this weekend (Feb. 10–12).

StreetSquash opened in September 1999 and became the second urban squash program in the United States. The program helps young people between the ages of 11 and 24 develop skills related to “academic tutoring, squash instruction, community service, college preparation, leadership development, and mentoring.” The program started as an after-school program with 24 middle school students and two staff members that have grown to help 400 people from 6th grade through college graduation and entry into the workforce.

As for this weekend’s competition, Muhwati says, “If I don’t shed a tear, I’ll be shocked. It’ll be probably the most proud moment of my career in squash. To walk into that facility with these young men is going to be super special.”