More than two-dozen youth played squash and lacrosse with professional football players from the New England Patriots and soccer stars on the New England Revolution on Tuesday at SquashBusters, an after-school urban youth development program on the Northeastern campus.
The afternoon event — which included children in SquashBusters, MetroLacrosse and Special Olympics Massachusetts — was part of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s season-long initiative to celebrate volunteerism.
Andre Carter, Gary Guyton and Jeff Tarpinian of the Patriots, and Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Shalrie Joseph, Tim Murray and Chris Tierney of the Revolution participated in the program.
“It’s inspirational for students to see and talk to professional athletes who are giving back to the community by volunteering,” noted Julia Morgan, director of school placement and support for SquashBusters.
Seventeen-year-old South Boston High School student Kadeem Murrell played squash with Carter, a 6-foot-4-inch defensive end who registered a franchise record 4 ½ sacks against the New York Jets last Sunday.
“I was happy being on the court with him,” said Murrell, who joined SquashBusters in sixth grade and expressed interest in applying to Northeastern. “He seems like a really nice, outgoing person.”
Murrell said volunteering in the community is just as much fun as participating in squash tournaments around the country. As part of the SquashBusters program, he rakes leaves in Franklin Park and plays cards with residents of Mount Pleasant Home, a Jamaica Plain-based housing facility for low-income elders with inadequate support systems.
“It’s great to help people in the community,” he said. “It’s really nice to interact with people who you didn’t know before.”
Prior to showing off his skills on the squash court, Carter imparted an important life-lesson to the crowd of young football fans. “The most important thing is to be positive and optimistic and to have a good head on your shoulders,” he explained. “Always speak the truth, whether on or off the field.”
Tierney, whose dad played squash in college, was not looking forward to being schooled by the young athletes. “It won’t be pretty for any of us,” the midfielder quipped.
He praised SquashBusters for its academic success rate. Every student who completes the program graduates from high school, and 93 percent earn a college degree.
“We wanted to talk to the kids about how important it is to stay in school,” Tierney said. “It’s incredible what they’ve done here.”
SquashBusters has become a second home for Alejandra Madrid, a 15-year-old sophomore at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science in Boston who taught Carter how to hold a squash racquet. “It’s like a big family,” Madrid said. “It’s really fun.”