Columbia’s Pacheco Backs Squash’s Olympic Bid


George WashingtonNew York, NY — In December, Reyna Pacheco, a first-year player at Columbia, travelled to Switzerland to help the World Squash Federation present its case for including squash in the 2020 Olympic Games.

Pacheco joined WSF President N Ramachandran, WSF Chief Executive Andrew Shelly, and top-ranked PSA pro James Willstrop in making the case for squash’s inclusion in the Olympics. Pacheco, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico as a young child,  shared how her experiences with an urban squash program in San Diego had impacted her life. describes how discovering squash was a “defining moment” in Pacheco’s life:

“I came to the United States with my mom and my brother when I was four years old and I think that was hard because we were here knowing that we could be kicked out any day,” said Pacheco. “A lot of immigrants, especially students, don’t feel like they can make it very far because they don’t have the documents to apply for scholarships or school. Because of that I didn’t feel like I could dream very far. I felt like I was limited, but when I was introduced to squash that completely changed my life.”

Squash was introduced to Pacheco in her early teenage years when a former Ivy League squash program director left his position to develop an urban squash program in San Diego, Calif. At a time when she was struggling in school and just the thought of attending college was daunting, squash entered her life and gave Pacheco an avenue to pursue something she enjoyed with a new drive.

“I didn’t understand how people could ask me to believe in something four years from now when I was struggling to live everyday. For me, the fact that someone would believe in me and say that you have the ability to do this led me to try out. When I got into the program, I just fell in love with everything about squash. It taught me things I couldn’t learn in a classroom: respect, commitment, dedication and hard work,” commented Pacheco.

Pacheco, a recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship, eventually applied to and was accepted at Columbia, where she has made an “instant impact” on the team.

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