STAMFORD, Conn. — Natalie Grainger, who was ranked the the No. 1 squash player in the world nine years ago, has a found a way to give back to her sport and to the community.
Grainger is lending her time to Squash Haven, an urban youth enrichment program that teaches inner-city kids from New Haven how to play the game.
“I hope I’m a good role model,” Grainger said with a laugh.
Grainger is a board member for the program and leads clinics at Yale University, where the program is held. Her involvement with Squash Haven has served as a beneficial way to use her athletic talents while helping those less fortunate.
“I’ve loved sports my whole life. I swam, I played squash and I think sports are a wonderful vehicle for true enjoyment for kids.”
Squash Haven also partners each after-school squash lesson with a block of tutoring and homework help, which Grainger deems as equally important as its athletic component.
“There were really great opportunities where I grew up in South Africa, and I was able to go to a fantastic school. But that isn’t available to everyone,” she said.
Grainger’s passion for squash is palpable. Before she started working as racquets director for Chelsea Piers Connecticut, she spent eight years as president of the Women’s International Squash Players Association. There, she served as an ambassador for the sport.
Throughout her 15-year career, Grainger was the U.S. National Champion and runner-up at the World Open in 2002 and the British Open in 2004.
This summer, Grainger will run weekly racquet camps as well as elite and high performance squash camps at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford. Students who play on their school squash teams or have a U.S. Squash national ranking can register for the one-week sessions designed to help players improve their game through basic technique and drilling skills, fitness development and match play. A complete list of squash camps at Chelsea Piers Connecticut are available online.