This video shows several of the best attributes. T Spartan JP Tew and Miles McIntyre (from Massachusetts) did not know each other this past September when they squared off for 3/4rd place in a national tournament. What followed was a thrilling 5-game match, dead even until 9-all in the fifth game, marked by crisp drives, lunging gets, changes of direction, courageous drops and mutual respect. Watch the last point to see what is beautiful about junior squash: a 1 minute long match point courageously contested which JP narrowly wins and which is followed by a gallant gesture of sportsmanship by Miles. Best of all, Miles and JP became friends that day in DC and at the next tournament they played (last week in Philadelphia) they warmed for one of their matches with a game of frisbee on the lawn of the U Penn athletic center. Friendships in the midst of genuine competition–that’s the best of junior squash.
A few weekends ago, The T celebrated our second Squash & Symphony event. Why would we do such a thing? What’s the connection between Squash and Music?
After observing children learn and grow for many years, it is my view that the discipline of learning music, among other things, has a way of developing grit in the diligent student. As you know, grit is one of our core values, noteworthy because studies show that the concept of grit is a more accurate predictor of student GPA than IQ. Grit encapsulates toughness, hard work, perseverance and diligence. It is digging one’s teeth into a task or concept and not letting go until it has been accomplished; it is overcoming setbacks; it is tenacity in the learning process. This is a hard virtue for children to learn but it is an important one for every serious student of squash and helpful to any student of life. In my view, learning music can be one of the ways where children develop grit, a commitment to learning a thing for its own sake, just to get it right. So we want to encourage it!
But as you know, music is not easy and children often complain that it is boring. So to help them in their musical learning, we occasionally gather a community of peers to encourage and celebrate their effort. Hence our Squash & Symphony events. We hope these recitals provide social reinforcement and encouragement to our musical athletes. We want to socialize the musical experience and celebrate our children’s progress. This may already happen in other recitals that your children perform, but we want The T Symphonies to be unique musical settings where they can play and laugh and fudge a few notes and make something beautiful in front of their friends and peers. T Symphonies should bring an element of fun and pride and community to the musical process. Because if children persevere and develop grit in music, it will reinforce the grit they are developing in squash. Then both experiences will contribute to their growth as life long learners. That is the goal.
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The primary focus at The T Squash Academy is building character through squash. Strong character is not an innate skill that kids have, but one that is learned through time, through repetition and with guidance by their coaches and peers. One of the areas where character matters is the way a child thinks about winning and how they react to losing. We encourage children to develop their own way of winning. Here’s a little guide to a winner’s thought process.
My Way of Winning:
When I play, I like to win. But winning is not just about beating my opponent. I think of winning as achieving the highest I can achieve in any given match. I like to push myself to do the best I can, to push harder and higher than those around me; to do better than I have done before. That is my way of winning.
Beating my opponent is not always a part of winning – especially when I face good competition. I won’t win every point and every match I play. I will lose sometimes.
But the way I handle losing is a big part of my way of winning. I can learn as much about my way of winning when I lose, as I can when I win.
I can practice my way of winning every time I step on court.
I can keep a winner’s attitude, a winner’s way of thinking, a winner’s way of responding to losses, mistakes, and setbacks.
How do I do this? When I step on court, I remind myself. . .
I will put my full energy into the next point–this point–at all times, up or down in a match. When I am scrambling and can only play defense, I will play defense for as long as can;
when I’m up and able to attack, I will go for the win, even if I miss. I will play smart, I will keep trying, I will keep scrapping. I will look ahead and believe.
If can do this on every point I play, I will either win the match or stand tall trying.
If I come up short, I will know that my best effort was lower than my opponents on that day. My opponent will have pushed me to my limit and I will find that my best just wasn’t enough on that day. There is no shame in that.
It will hurt but I’ll take my medicine because, in the end, what I really want is to know is my very best. I want to deliver my best performance on court on a given day, to strive to the maximum of my abilities, to be tested and to stand strong in the test.
If I am tested and stand strong, then I am a winner. I will have reached my goal. Win or lose, I will have played like a champion. That is my way of winning.
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