Henderson Middle School chess coach wants to prepare students for life

The Henderson Middle School chess team is looking for it's third straight national title.

It’s a game for champions.

The Henderson Middle School chess team is looking for a third national title.

But the Henderson chess coach is looking beyond national titles for his students.

Chess is all about being multiple steps ahead, and the Henderson chess coach is applying that philosophy to his students.

Because once their playing days are over at Henderson, he doesn’t want them to get behind in the game of life.

Saul Ramirez, the Henderson Middle School chess team coach, said this game has taught his students life lessons.

“To never give up,” said Isaac Mendoza, a seventh grader at Henderson. “And to play no matter what type of opponent you have.”

“What we do here is to build great character out of our students, and build good citizens out of them,” Ramirez said.

But one of Ramirez’s most valuable life lesson, is to never give up.

And Ramirez doesn’t want his students to give up on the game of chess when they leave Henderson.

Most of his students will go to Jefferson High School.

“We’re looking into creating a Jefferson High School chess team,” Ramirez said. “So our students can continue into their feeder pattern and play as well.”

Some of Ramirez’s students are going to Burges High School, and said they plan on making a team once they go into their freshman year.

But Ramirez wants to do something more.

“We’re trying to create a chess team – outside of school,” Ramirez said. “We want to build an El Paso league team where all the kids can play chess. Regardless of what high school they attend.”

Ramirez said it’s more than just playing chess, but investing in their futures.

“We want them to use chess as a means for college,” Ramirez said. “We want them to keep playing, to stay out of trouble, to get more experience, and use this to move on and go to college. We want them to continue into high school and get scholarships. So when they graduate from high school, they’ll have more opportunity like they did at Henderson Middle School. Where they experienced being a champion and not giving up.”

The Hornets won top honors in the novice and junior varsity divisions at the 2017 North/Central Middle School Texas Scholastic Chess Championships. The team will next compete at the national championship in May in Nashville.

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