CARTAGENA, Colombia – The Harvard men's and women's squash teams traveled to the north coast of Colombia in Cartagena for a week-long training trip during winter break. The team volunteered every day after its training sessions at Squash Urbano with local children.
"Our trip to Cartagena was a successful one on so many fronts," said Gregory Lee '87 and Russell Ball '88 Endowed Coach for Harvard University, Mike Way. "First and foremost, our teams had an opportunity to get involved and help out Squash Urbano, the local urban squash program. It's so valuable for our student-athletes to have experiences like that and I hope we made a small impact on the wonderful kids and their thriving program. In addition, we were able to train well for a week in the middle of our season in a warm climate. And lastly, diving into the history of Cartagena and Colombian culture is something our players will hopefully remember for the rest of their lives."
Day 1 – Monday, January 14
The teams traveled from Boston to Cartagena following the teams' weekend matches against Cornell, Stanford and Columbia.
Day 2 – Tuesday, January 15
Once settled, the first group of student-athletes began its volunteering session at Squash Urbano. The Crimson got to meet the kids in the program. After the session, the men's and women's teams ventured out in the old city, discovering new restaurants, cuisines and even a popsicle stand, which became a daily pitstop for the team.
Day 3 – Wednesday, January 16
The teams began its third day with the first training session of the trip. Following training and volunteering, the day continued with a historical walking tour of the old city as well as visiting a coffee roastery for a mini course about the history of Colombian coffee. The teams also roasted their own coffee beans and tasted fresh coffee.
Following a full day of activities, the teams settled in to watch teammate and men's co-captain Timmy Brownell participate in the Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Station in New York.
Day 4-6 – Thursday, January 17 – Saturday, January 19
The middle of the trip featured the main training sessions. Both the men and women would have their own training sessions, which were followed by volunteering activities. During the volunteer portion, Liam Waterous, Varoun Gulati and Stephen Monrad participated in a two-hour long doubles tournament with the local kids, with Waterous and his new friend Santiago clinching the victory.
Following each day on the court, the teams spent the afternoons learning and experiencing the old city of Cartagena. The two teams experienced numerous sunsets, Colombian cuisine and historic churches that left the athletes in amazement.
Day 7 – Sunday, January 20
The teams took a day off from all squash activities to experience more of Colombia's rich culture. Team members boarded two speedboats and took a trip off the coast. The team jumped in the ocean and explored a plane underwater. The team ended the day by going out to dinner and having more Colombian cuisine.
Day 8 – Monday, January 21
The teams wrapped up their final training sessions, followed by a final dinner with the members of the Squash Urbano program. The kids gave all the student-athletes bracelets to wear for the rest of the season as good luck charms. Students finished out their final day experiencing the last bits the city they could find from new stores, restaurants and talking to people from the area.