Sophomore squash player Matt Sheridan believes the sport has a greater purpose than simply competition.
“Squash is a really interesting sport in that it teaches you a lot about yourself …How you respond to pressure on the court tells you how you respond to pressure in the outside world,” Sheridan said.
“I think playing squash allows you to work on a lot of athletic-related things that would help you in your real life.”
This belief motivated Sheridan to spread his love of squash to others. While in high school at Choate Rosemary Hall in New Haven, Conn., he helped organize annual squash clinics for inner-city children in order to promote squash in urban areas.
“[Squash] has had such an impact in my life, and I think it is only right that I help others that didn’t have as many opportunities as I did,” he said. “Also, I think it is fun. I like working with younger kids, playing squash and helping them through the same challenges I had. I think it was a rewarding experience.”
Sheridan’s fondness of the sport grew quickly when he first began playing at the age of 13. His father, a squash player himself, led him to begin playing regularly and working for an organization in Chicago called METROsquash.
“[METROsquash] uses squash as an avenue to enrich the lives of kids,” he said. “Not only through academics but also through squash. The main objective is to use squash to get kids excited … and make sure they graduate from high school and college.”
The following year, Sheridan began attending Choate but he continued promoting squash to others. He learned about a squash-educating organization called Squash Haven, which, according to its website, is an after-school enrichment program that uses both academics and athletics to help children reach their full potential. Sheridan came up with the idea of bringing the kids from the program to Choate.
“My idea was that kids don’t get to see how squash can actually help them and how they can use squash in their high school careers at a school like Choate,” he said. “The idea was to bring these kids down to Choate for an entire day of squash with the Choate squash team.”
For the next three years, Sheridan helped organize the event at the school while playing on the varsity team. Now, as a member of the varsity squad at Penn, he is still working to instill his love for the sport in others as a member of the Youth Leadership Committee for RhodySquash, another organization that promotes squash in urban areas.
Sheridan believes his work with urban squash organizations has an important role in his life and in the world.
“I think at the end of the day, the world is a personal world,” he said. “And the more that you actually do for someone on a personal level is the most valuable thing that you could do.”