Racquet Up Detroit is a non-profit organization that provides students with academic support and coaching in the sport of squash. For the past 10 years, the group has worked out of the Northwest Activity Center in Detroit. Now, they are ready to build a permanent home of their own.
Derek Aguirre is the Executive Director of Racquet Up Detroit. He says the last decade in the Northwest Activity Center has helped the program grow to the point that they need more space.
“Our new headquarters are going to be about five minutes away from Northwest Activity Center. (The facility will) enable us to do a lot more and also have long term certainty about what this is going to look like,” says Aguirre.
The program currently serves more than 100 students with hopes that the new facility will handle another 100.
Racquet Up Detroit uses squash and other court sports to get students in the door, but the program is a long-term, holistic development opportunity for students. Jessica Reed, the Education Director at Racquet Up Detroit, says the whole experience is valuable for students.
“We are a holistic and creative program,” explains Reed. “(In the) current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve done a lot to just make sure that our students feel supported during our virtual learning. We also provide creative literacy enrichment.”
Construction on the new 19,000 square-foot building has started and is slated for completion by the end of 2021. The new facility is expected to host world-class squash events and aims to create a strong sense of community where people feel safe.
Aguirre says within the next 10 years, he wants to see the organization help as many students and families as possible. Their new home will bring them one step closer to that goal.
“I think that our success in attracting and retaining kids into our program for the long haul is going to be influenced by the fact that they’re going to have a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility that is designed specifically for them to come to every day.”