RhodySquash is a non-profit organisation that provides at-risk youth with academic tutoring, squash instruction, community service, and mentoring. Our goal is to create a supportive and nurturing environment that allows all students to achieve their full potential.
RhodySquash provides an opportunity for the underprivileged youth of our community to achieve their personal best through the integration of athletics, community service and scholarship offered with a mentorship anchored by the sport of squash and the objective of self-actualization.
Jaileen Guerrero, then 11, gets in some practive on the squash court with volunteer Peter O’Connell of the RhodySquash program, in 2012.
The barrage of negative ads during this past primary election season was unrelenting. I feel compelled to set the record straight regarding an ad hominem attack that Nellie Gorbea leveled against Guillaume De Ramel, who lost in the Democratic primary for Rhode Island secretary of state, because I know firsthand that the facts defy the implied allegation.
I specifically refer to a video that ran during the campaign, which said, “He just uses his family fortune to give away hundreds of thousands to … the game of squash.” These words and the accompanying photos purposely aimed to polarize the electorate by painting De Ramel as an uncaring elitist. Here is the truth:
De Ramel and I met because of our shared passion for squash. We both played squash in Newport, at a modest two-court facility housed next to our local Seven-Eleven, in a “club” open to any member of the public for a nominal membership fee.
I was a high school student involved in the urban squash movement, and I pitched the idea of starting a local chapter in our community. Guillaume and his wife Molly jumped at the chance to support an organization that would bring our beloved sport to all the kids of Newport. The De Ramels’ commitment to critical early funding of the program catalyzed approval by the superintendent of Newport Public Schools, allowing us to partner with the Thompson Middle School and launch RhodySquash in 2010.
RhodySquash really involves this: an after-school program that introduces kids, often from poorer homes, to a new athletic activity and sharpens their skills in the classroom. On each of the three days per week the program meets, one hour is spent on court with a professional coach who works on racquet skills, team building and sportsmanship. Another hour each session is focused on the classroom, with personalized tutoring by mentors who support the work done at school and help families who often have two parents working.
We offer healthy snacks, supplementing the diet of our kids, many of whom depend on the National School Lunch Program for nutrition. We provide gear and transportation, and travel to compete with urban squash programs in Boston and New Haven. For many of our kids, competing in tournaments is a first opportunity to visit another state. RhodySquash has helped our kids improve their grades and expand their horizons.
I regret that The Journal’s PolitiFact did not check the Gorbea ad that backhanded candidate Guillaume De Ramel. His critical support of RhodySquash at its inception, and his ongoing support of that organization — along with the Boys and Girls Club, Child and Family Services, Rhode Island Hospital and numerous other organizations serving veterans, immigrants, women, and all of the citizens of Rhode Island — clearly demonstrate how actions speak louder than words.
Last season, RhodySquash played Squashbusters, Boston’s urban program. The RhodySquashers ultimately prevailed against their SquashBusters counterparts, a testament to the work of our program and the impact of urban squash nationally. Imagine what that victory did to boost the pride and self-esteem of the students of the Thompson Middle School.
Imagine what thinking like that could have done for the state of Rhode Island.
Ross Henry Freiman-Mendel is a student at Brown University and the co-founder of RhodySquash, an urban squash program based in Newport.
Welcome Ann Guinan, RhodySquash’s new executive director. Ann is an experienced squash player who enjoys coaching and looks forward to ushering our students through another great year of athletics, academics and community service.
We had a successful turn out at Thompson Middle School on October 2nd. On hand were a few of our Rhodysquashers from 2013/14 season and we got many new sign ups. We look forward to getting on to the courts on Thursday October 9th from 3 pm..
We have a new address for correspondence: 270 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. Our contact number is 401 662 6904
Thompson Middle School students in Newport are learning that squash — the sport, not the vegetable — can be their ticket into an independent high school. RhodySquash pairs the sport with tutoring at St. George’s high school.
The goal of the urban squash program is to increase academic performance. Students split into two groups of eight, and half head to the court for coaching with former Brown University squash coach Pete Avitable, while the other eight team up with executive director Kerry Bidlack for an hour of tutoring in a St. George’s classroom. The Boys and Girls Club of Newport provides afterschool transportation, and St. George’s donates its state-of-the art facility for use and students tutor and coach the younger scholars. “Squash is typically played in private clubs,” says Bidlack. “We are able to bring it to children that would not otherwise get the opportunity to play.”
One student from Pakistan became the top ranking player in his age bracket at a youth tournament at Yale University, and his academics improved too. “Because most students are starting their squash career at the high school level,” says Bidlack, “we’ve started them four years earlier to provide them with a little bit of an edge.”
RhodySquash is very excited to invite you to the second annual RhodySquash Rally! The Rally will be taking place from 6 to 8pm on Thursday June 26th at The Regatta Place, 5 Marina Drive, in Newport RI. Tickets are now available through our Event Tickets page.
The RhodySquash Rally is a reception and silent auction fundraiser to benefit RhodySquash, an after school mentoring program for youth in the community. All proceeds will go directly to Thompson Middle School students so that they will receive squash instruction, and academic tutoring in order to increase their chances of success in school and in life.
Congratulations to the RhodySquash team for it’s victory over Squashbusters last week in Boston! They played strong, exhibited great sportsmanship and represented Thompson Middle School and the city of Newport very well. Great job! They will travel to Yale University this month to challenge the SquashHaven team. Good luck!
RhodySquash was recently the subject of a Bus 52 documentary. The group came to St. Georges to observe and film the kids practicing and studying. They did a great job capturing the essence of the program and the kids did a great job too! Thanks so much to Robert Gelb and his crew for a wonderful experience.
Pete Avitable has myriad squash experience. A graduation of the University of Rochester (where he was captain of the Men’s Varsity Squash team), Pete comes to RhodySquash having coached at Brown University, Connecticut College, the Greater Albany Squash Association, and Siena College club squash team. He is a certified Level 2 squash coach and looks forward to working with the RhodySquashers in improving all aspects of their game and in competing in matches and tournaments in the state and throughout the country.