Program helps students build character one racquet at a time

Racquet Up Detroit teaches skills on and off the court

There are many after school programs in Detroit, but nothing quite like this.

“When students are here they typically get enrichment, tutoring, literacy, and academic support, as well they learn the sport of Squash,” said Keonia Ridley, who is the Program Director for Racquet Up Detroit.

The students at Racquet Up Detroit are learning Squash as part of this one-of-a-kind program.

“So Racquet Up Detroit is a long-term holistic after-school program, we work with students in 5th-12th grade throughout the Northwest and greater Detroit area,” Ridley said.

The program has been around just over a decade. It gained popularity over the years, and outgrew its space inside the Northwest Activity Center, so a brand new 18,000 sq. ft. location on West Outer Drive and Hubbell opened in 2022. It holds the title of largest Squash court center in the Midwest. Ridley explained that at first most students have never heard of Squash.

“Families are usually like, what is this again, are you talking about the vegetable?” said Ridley.

After a while, they grow to love the sport, she said. That includes high school senior Baye Mbodj who’s been in the program since 5th grade. He says his Squash skill has really improved over the years, but what he’s most grateful for is the academic support he’s received from the program.

“Back in 5th grade I didn’t really like to do my homework, but Racquet Up is really on my head about that, really doing your homework, getting it done, like that’s what’s really important for your grades,” Mbodj said.

“For College stuff, they really helped me a lot, I got into MSU, I got into Albion, I got into Chatham,” he went on to say.

The program even offers support 7 years after high school.

To see how this program is building character for youth in Detroit while teaching the sport of Squash, click video above.

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