#16: Lauren Patrizio Xaba is the Executive Director & Founder of SquashDrive. Breaking down walls & looking to grow outdoors Squash

For some quick background on our guest in this episode, here’s a quick overview.

Lauren Patrizio Xaba is the Executive Director & Founder of SquashDrive, the Squash & Education Alliance program based out of Oakland, California. Lauren has been at the helm since 2009, leading the program to evolve & grow to increase their mission’s impact.

We cover a variety of topics from; what it’s like navigating their core student-programing during a pandemic, how Lauren positioned herself to start Squash Drive and where the program is looking to break new ground in the sport….literally.

After College, Lauren launched her career in Marketing working at companies like Comcast & JP Morgan Chase, before coming to a decision point on what to do next.  When these crossroads happen, like many others, Lauren reached back to her roots and decided to explore how squash could make an impact in people’s lives.

Today, Lauren and the SquashDrive Board of Directors are embracing innovative thinking to be the first SEA program to have outdoor courts! The outdoor concept started as “wouldn’t this be great to have” but during Covid times, the conversation gave new perspective to the need and urgency.

The growth of Outdoor squash has been a topic of discussion for many decades but only a handful of courts currently exist. There is a major growth opportunity in this area but we first need to connect the passion, people & resources for more projects to be successful.

Lauren has been on the West Coast for 15 years, but she is originally from Philadelphia and while attending University of Pennsylvania, she Captained the Squash Team.

It was a pleasure to have Lauren as a guest and we would love to hear from anyone who is looking to grow squash outdoors! We hope you enjoy the conversation.

We are always looking for new stories and love your help! Squash Radio has already shared some audience stories but we are always looking for more.

Reach out to us on any social media app or email squashradio@gmail.com.  As always, thanks for listening!

Music brought to you from: www.bensound.com

#14 West Coast growth; in Students through Squash. Renato Pavia, CEO of Access Youth Academy, shares his philosophy and journey. Brazilian native imports his passion to San Diego and inspires change!


We talk with Renato Paiva, who is the CEO, or Executive Director of Access Youth Academy in San Diego, California.  Access Youth is part of the Network of S-E-A, Squash Education Alliance, a non-profit After School Youth program, combing Squash training and Academic enrichment.

Renato, has been leading the charge in San Diego since 2007 and on top of

his role with Access Youth, he’s been raising awareness for the sport on the West Coast to inspire more growth of Squash.  One of his students, Reyna Pacheco, is an inspiring example of how a dedicated Coach can remarkably impact the trajectory of a person’s life and their family.  As an undocumented immigrant, Reyna went from a novice squash player, to playing Varsity at Columbia before turning Pro.  Reyna has since retired as a Professional but moved onto the Financial sector working at Goldman Sachs.

This  player/Coach story is now encapsulated in ‘Hollywood’ history, by Apple TV filming their story for the series Little America  (click link to watch) and highlights just one of the impactful stories Access Youth delivers for all students involved.

The dream for many programs like Access Youth Academy, is to have their own dedicated squash facility.   In order to secure a permanent home in San Diego, Renato and the Board of Directors had to be resilient against the ups & downs, twists and turns that these projects usually endure before success.  Essentially, Renato was deploying the same core message he shares every day with his students “small things, every day, for a long period of time…that’s how change happens!”

And what does success look like? Millions of dollars raised, a $5.5 Million Grant from the City of San Diego, all towards building a home for this non-profit to help serve more students.

Before being Executive Director, he was originally from Brazil.  As a junior squash player, Renato played for the Brazilian National Team.  After graduating from college in Brazil, he made the move to the United States, Coaching at Harvard University before making the move out West.

Renato has boundless energy and channels it to drive the growth of Squash on the West Coast and propel the lives of his Student to a better tomorrow.

We hope you enjoy our conversation.

We are always looking for new stories and love your help! Squash Radio has already shared some audience stories but we are always looking for more.

Reach out to us on any social media app or email squashradio@gmail.com.  As always, thanks for listening!

Music brought to you from: www.bensound.com

#12: Raising Arizona Squash; James Dodson, Squash Dad, former Chicagoan, now a Phoenician, always playing, building

Paulette, Julius & James Dodson

In this episode we connect with James Dodson who launched his publishing career covering youth and poverty issues for Youth Communication and the RFK Memorial where he picked up the game.  He’s devoted to using squash to enrich the lives of young people.  And, in his new residence of Phoenix founded Arizona Squash, Inc.  He’s partnered with Empower College Prep, Grand Canyon University and the Family Life Center at North Phoenix Baptist Church to support a largely multi-ethnic under-served community in the city’s West Valley.

James is no stranger as to what it takes to build a successful squash program, he is a Founding Board Member and Past Board Chair of Chicago’s MetroSquash.  In 2005 MetroSquash was the first National Urban Squash initiative founded outside of the East Coast.  In 2015, MetroSquash raised $8 million and opened its primary squash and academic center near the campus of the University of Chicago to serve the program’s students.

This month Arizona Squash launched programming with its first class of students while undergoing a fundraising campaign to convert squash courts and recruit a full-time Executive Director.  To learn more visit, http://www.arizonasquash.org/.

Click on video to hear James Dodson pitching at SEED Spot