It had never happened before: The Men’s World Squash Championships, held on American soil for the very first time.
“They just saw the energy and could not believe it,” Shabana Khan said.
Added Azam Khan: “Guys that got a ticket for one day got a weekly pass.”
That was 18 months ago, when Bellevue was treated to the best squash players in a sport that’s often overlooked.
“I think people know what it’s about – they got a taste of it,” Azam Khan said. “And once you get a taste of it, it’s hard to turn away.”
And that’s what Shabana Khan is banking on once again, when the Bellevue Squash Classic takes place next month, featuring the top 12 men’s squash players in the world. Khan, who received an award from the U.S. Squash Association for her administrative contributions to the sport, has seen the positive effects since Worlds came to town.
“Our junior program at the Pro Sports Club (in Redmond) has tripled since the event,” Khan said.
But the momentum stalled when it came to a venue and sponsors. The Meydenbauer Center, which hosted the 2015 event, said no. Next month’s event will take place at the brand new Bellevue Boys and Girls Club building instead.
“It’s the ideal venue,” Khan said of the Boys and Girls Club. “If it was there when we held Worlds, we probably would’ve used it then.”
And after raising a million dollars last time, this event costs a fraction of that at $350,000. But with one month left, they’re $50,000 short.
“We’re going to find a way to find another $50,000,” Azam Khan said. “Where there’s a will there’s a way, right?”
Especially with Shabana Khan running the show.
“Everybody who’s going to come right from the get-go will be taken by surprise, I think,” she said.
Added Azam Khan: “It’s good the see the game growing. And that’s what it’s all about.”