“Bringing squash outside, and making it free to the public, is the best way to give access to all, and increase the visibility of the game,” Ryan Wall, director of Public Squash, said in a statement.
According to U.S. Squash, over 20 million people participate in squash regularly in more than 185 countries around the world. Forbes previously named it the No. 1 sport for getting healthy and staying fit, with participants burning an average of 750 calories per hour.
Public Squash board of directors Alex Wessner, Shawn Dragann, Brian Staub, and Wall are striving to make squash more accessible to the masses and erase the association of it being a preppy sport. According to U.S. Squash, median incomes of squash players and fans is $300,000.
The first step in changing that is free outdoor public courts. In 2017, Public Squash proposed building a squash court on one of the city’s more than 2,000 handball courts, many of which were underutilized. A year later, the court at Hamilton Fish Park was opened. Public Squash raised more than $70,000 through its website and from other fundraisers and received an interest-free loan of $30,000 from a supporter to make the project a reality, according to Bloomberg. The court, which cost approximately $85,000 to build, will stay up for a year.
By 2020, Public Squash’s goal is to open 20 public courts with free weekly clinics at each location. Public Squash aims for there to be 500 outdoor courts in major U.S. cities by 2025. The organization is also striving for squash’s Olympic inclusion, setting their sights for a successful bid by 2030. Ten years after that, Public Squash aims to boast the No. 1 men’s and women’s players in the world, who each got their start on a Public Squash court.
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) and World Squash Federation (WSF) have attempted for the sport’s Olympic inclusion but were rejected in 2012, 2016, and 2020. They are combining their forces to present a bid for the 2024 Games in Paris, headlined by top-ranked French female player Camille Serme.
Serme said she was obviously disappointed following the previous bid rejections, but will do as much as she can to aid this latest push.
According to NYC Parks, the public squash court is free to use, and is available for play on a first-come, first-serve basis, except when the court has scheduled programming. The court is located on one of four of Hamilton Fish Park’s handball courts (the other courts remain available for handball use).
The court is for squash play only. Please bring your own equipment and limit play to one hour. Goggles are recommended. Please do not wear open-toed shoes or flip-flops on the court.
Located at 128 Pitt Street, the court will be in operation through October 17, 2018.