BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — We introduced you to716 Squash back in 2020, right before the pandemic started. After two years of navigating an after school sports program through a pandemic, we checked back in with them to see how things are going.
"We pride ourselves on feeling like a second home for the kids, that family feel," said Hope Lynch, Executive Director.
When these kids walked onto squash courts years ago, they were new to the sport. Now, they're winning big.
"Our high school girls won their division and brought home the trophy, that was their first national title," said Lynch.
They're also seeing success off the court, with several kids earning full tuition scholarships to local private high schools.
These students come from West Buffalo Charter School and West Hertel Academy after school, spending half their time on the court and half in the classroom. Which was tough to maintain during the pandemic.
"So we really missed that togetherness that team environment. We did the best we could to connect, learning fun different ways, we watch squash games on YouTube together," said Lynch.
But Lynch says this is a program about long term relationships, following kids through their life and supporting them, which kept them connected. As they move on, it's time to bring in a new group of 5th grade students for the first time since 2020.
"A lot of them feel like they have a limited view of the world around them because they haven't left Buffalo," said Lynch.
To continue to support these kids, they're raising money with their annual Rally 716 event where they'll play and accept donations. They're hoping to hit their $100,000 goal, so far they're around $88,000.
Money goes to things like racquets, shoes, goggles, laptops and other tech for the classroom, as well as things like transportation to get them to tournaments across the country.
To donate, click here.