SQUASHing the Competition at Nationals

With an exclusive video! (see bottom)


SEM has always been known for its intelligent young minds but perhaps SEM might now be known for producing #squashgoddesses, as the squash team sometimes calls themselves.

In the past few years, SEM has done an exceptional job at bringing home national titles. SEM was the US High School Team Squash National Champion of Division 5 for 2015, 2016 and 2017. This season, SEM was moved up to Division 4 where the team was challenged but still mustered the talent to place 5th; many of the games were very close. 5th place out of 16 schools in our first year in a higher division is no small accomplishment, even considering the team’s shining history.

So who are these “#SquashGoddesses and what made this team so unique and talented?


This year SEM placed 5th in Division 4 at Nationals in Philadephia, PA.

The squash team ranges from girls who have played since the age of three (Petra DeRose ’20) to girls who casually decided to pick up the sport after they “started hitting around balls” on their shadow day at SEM (Brooke Pohlman ’18 ). The team is coached by attorney Phil Barth with the help of SEM teacher Besty Bloom ’08 (who was on SEM’s first squash team in 2007-08) and co-captioned by seniors Cara DeRose and Rose McDonald.

The 2017-2018 squash ladder as of February 9, 2018.

Many squash matches and the National Championships are not held in the confines of Western New York so the squash team travels to find tough competition in places such as Mercersburg, PA and Philadelphia, PA. These long bus rides and overnight competitions synthesized a bond between the squash players that can never be broken.

Jenna Pantano ’20 credited most of her squash memories to competitions out of state and claimed these trips are the reason for the bond she shares with her teammates. “When we all spend the night together it’s very easy to open up,”  said Petra DeRose. Laughing over cute lacrosse boys is another reason the team is so close, shared Rose McDonald.

Along with the tight-knit dynamic of the team comes the competitive drive that lies within every student-athlete. In squash, each member of a team is ranked in order of skill, this allows the teams to theoretically pit evenly skilled players against each other in matches. Given the nature of athletes and the clear ranking of value, the team frequently experiences friendly competition. “A large chunk of our team is so close together in points so it gets frustrating figuring out who is ranked where,” said Petra who comfortably holds the second seat on the team.

These factors: travel/bonding and hard work/competition created the perfect team to move up a division and nationally place. The players knew they needed to work together and play hard.

Mary Curtin and Maia Dreishpoon at practice.

All in all, the 2018 US High School Team Squash National Championships were one for the books.  The move up to Division 4 “made matches more exciting in general because you didn’t know who was going to win,” reflected Rose.