March 20, 2004, By Ron Beck Â© 2004 SquashTalk
was awarded the CSA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. He is the head
of the SquashBusters program
in Boston Massachusetts.
|Greg Zaff with the SquashBusters in
Greg Zaff has
done more in the last decade to change the squash landscape in the USA
than any other individual. His greatly successful SquashBuster athletic-educational
enrichment program in Boston Massachusetts has served as the model for
similar programs in New York, Philadelphia, Poughkeepsie and Toronto.
Greg is a 1984
graduate of Williams College, where he played #1 on both their squash
and tennis teams and was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces
in the Crowd” for being named All-American in both sports. At Williams,
Zaff became a squash fanatic. According to his coach, Sean Sloane, Zaff
took his squash racquet everywhere, including to bed on some occasions.
Zaff continued his love affair with squash. He joined the thriving WPSA
Hardball Pro Squash Tour. Playing on tour with Mark Talbott, Ned Edwards,
John Nimick and a number of other famous squash figures, Greg attained
the #2 ranking position for most of the 1990-91 season, his sixth year
touring. During that season, he won the largest squash event of the world
that year, the Xerox Canadian Open, defeating then #1 Mark Talbott in
game was devolving into an international softball standard at that juncture,
and Zaff decided to scale back his playing career and turned to the Kennedy
School of Government at Harvard. He was following a strong desire to pursue
socially meaningful work.
1994 and early
1995 saw Greg touring around city schools with his friend Mark Talbott,
putting on exhibitions against gymnasium walls as he generated interest
in his creative new idea, the SquashBusters program.
|The SquashBusters having some fun
The rest is,
as they say, history. Formally launching SquashBusters in March 1995,
Zaff calling on his unique ability to appeal to both the inner city kids
he was hoping to attract to squash, as well as to well-heeled squash players
looking to put something back into the sport as donors and enthusiastic
volunteers who he recruited to provide both the tutoring and squash instruction
he required for his program.
at Boston area squash clubs, and drawing on volunteer tutors from Harvard
and other local schools, Zaff built up a program whose goal was to enrich
kids lives through a combination of educational enrichment and structured
sport (squash), which at the same time achieving the diversification of
squash in the Boston area, and later nationally.
kids became familiar figures in the junior squash scene in the Boston
area, and gained rapid acceptance.
Within a few
short years SquashBusters was having incredible success on all fronts,
with graduates going on to selective private schools, playing intercollegiate
squash in college; and with his program eventually gaining a wonderful
permanent facility at the Northeastern University Campus.
has been fully embraced by the North American squash community and has
even gained the hearts of PSA and WISPA touring pros who are often seen
spending time with the SquashBuster kids.
Greg Zaff has
gone from excellence in squash to building a truly new and different program
that will change the lives of countless kds as well as change the face
of squash in North America forever.