City Squash
Enabling New York City youth to fulfill their academic,
athletic and personal potential.

Bash 2017 Keynote Speech


The below speech was delivered by CitySquash team member Andrew Cadienhead at the 2017 Bash at the University Club in New York City. Andrew has been a CitySquash team member since 2006.




June 1, 2017


“Good evening, everyone. Thank you all for being here tonight as we celebrate CitySquash’s 15th Anniversary! And thank you Mr. Frew for that amazing introduction. I feel extremely lucky that our paths have crossed in life.


My name is Andrew Cadienhead and I’m excited to share my story with you.


I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and immigrated to New York just in time to start Kindergarten. I’ve been raised by an amazing single mother, who is a nurse, and who is truly responsible for the fact that I joined CitySquash, because on literally the same day I got the paper about the tryouts, she brought up that fact that I was starting to look a little chubby. If you’ve seen any of the middle school pictures of me around tonight, you’ll see she was right! For that moment of honesty and for all your love and all that you’ve sacrificed for me over the years, I am so grateful to you mom.


You see, I’ve always been a family person. Growing up as a kid, I craved traditions, crowded tables, road trips, and inside jokes. While I spent a lot of time with my older cousins, I always wished that I had people my own age to hang out with. When I was accepted into CitySquash this wish came true. I fell in love with the sport of squash, but mostly I was just so happy to get to have a big group of people to spend time with. I learned that I had been living in a tiny Bronx bubble. I loved riding in the crowded vans, laughing and singing our way to tournaments. I loved setting up our sleeping bags on the floors of incredibly generous host families, cheering each other on, and sharing meals together. CitySquash was—and is—the first big, rowdy, supportive family I’ve ever been a part of. It changed my life. CitySquash popped that Bronx bubble and allowed me to dream big.


With the help of CitySquash, I was admitted to the Taft School for high school. I arrived there excited for a new adventure. And my first year was exactly that. I had an incredibly difficult time adjusting to Taft’s academic rigor. I doubted myself, wondering if it had been a mistake to leave home, to think I could make it at such an elite school. CitySquash on the other hand never lost faith in me. The staff members were determined to see me succeed. I’m also incredibly grateful to Mr. Frew, who introduced me tonight, for the support he gave me during that time. He believed in me and helped me believe in myself. One major boost in confidence was when my classmates elected me president of the freshman class. This is not a role I ran for—I never would have thought I’d even be considered given the challenges I was facing. But at Taft, all freshman are put on the ballot for the class to choose from. I was humbled and honored to be elected and it really helped me believe that I fit in and would make it at Taft. And slowly, I figured it out. By my junior year, I was thriving. I was elected Head Mon, my senior year, which is the President of the entire Taft student body. In that role, I focused on keeping the Taft traditions strong—keeping the sense of family alive at the school. And I also tried to improve on some things. (After all, there haven’t been that many Head Mons who are Jamaican-American squash players from the Bronx!) I tried to use my leadership role to make Taft an increasingly inclusive and accepting place.


The third family I’m a part of is Middlebury College. As I transitioned there, I began calling CitySquash Program Director and Middlebury Alum, Al Boillot, about as often as I called my mom. She gave me endless advice and I’m thankful for her support. I’ve had an amazing four years at Middlebury—academically, athletically, socially. I’ve even started my own business that delivers food from the Middlebury on-campus grill to the students who don’t feel like walking over there. It has been way more successful than I ever could have imagined and it has been a real learning experience to run this company. This summer, I’m working as an intern at a start-up and hope to learn from some more experienced entrepreneurs.


One of the most challenging parts of my Middlebury experience was when my squash coach, John Illig, passed away suddenly. John was an incredible individual who was a huge part of my decision to attend Middlebury. I was devastated by the news of his passing and couldn’t wrap my head around why such a terrible thing could happen to someone so kind and young and full of life. As soon as the news of his death spread, I was showered by texts and calls from my CitySquash family. I was blown away by how many people thought to reach out to me on that sad day. Although many of them hadn’t known John, they knew he was important to me and did everything they could to help me overcome a difficult time.


I have heard a saying that is, “while friends come and go, family is forever.” I truly feel the CitySquash team members and staff members are like my extended family. Their support gives me the confidence to take risks, to be who I am, to go out into the world proud and ready to succeed. When I think back on CitySquash’s 15-years and on my journey through the program, I can’t help but think of the youngest team members who are eight and nine years old now. I know many of you are here tonight and I want to say to you, cherish these moments with this program. The hours together in the vans, the nights in sleeping bags on squash courts, the cheering, the conversations, the laughter. The people who are with you on these adventures will be the people who will be supporting you through life’s most challenging times. They will be the people cheering you on at every victory.


Tonight, I congratulate CitySquash and its supporters on an amazing 15 years. I thank you all for the opportunities provided for me and my teammates. And I wish the program an amazing next 15. Our big, crazy family grows every year and I can’t wait to see what will come next. Thanks for being part of it!”



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