Chess at the Prep: A confident coach, makes a confident team

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Bret Perkins
Junior Joseph Shahenian, left, competes against the chess team coach, Thomas O’Donnell.

What’s better than having fun and playing some chess? Having fun and playing chess, while representing your school!


One of the newest sports at Imagine Prep is the chess team. Imagine Prep’s chess team is coached by Thomas O’Donnell, high school science teacher. Club meetings are every Monday and Thursday, or join the team to go compete at competitions. Anyone is welcomed to join the club, but three teams have already been formed to go play at competitions.


O’Donnell has much experience in chess, coaching previous teams and even winning their league last year. He’s very confident in all three of his teams saying they’ll definitely be one of the top teams in the league.


“We’ll do well as I can foresee before the season gets started, I imagine we’ll be in the top few teams in the league,” O’Donnell said.


The teams have been practicing for a while and have been adding more members as the year goes on.


“The team this year has been practicing key moves, general tactics, and ways to increase your positioning,” O’Donnell said.


O’Donnell grew up playing chess and video games, saying they’re very similar to chess. You just need to have a clear mind and focus.


“Chess is very similar to video games, because it involves strategy,” O’Donnell said “That’s what I like so much about chess, it’s strategically based, mind to mind.”


“It’s not a question of speed, for the most part, it’s if you can out think the person in front of you,” O’Donnell said.


For people not interested in joining the team or club, playing chess can still have some cognitive benefits.


“[Chess] helps you rationalize mistakes. In every game, you can always find a mistake and a way to get better,” O’Donnell said.


The teams and their respective players are also ready to start the year, with each player preparing for the upcoming tournament. One of those players, junior Elizabeth Reader, has also been practicing for the upcoming tournament.


“I hope to contribute to my team by playing to the best of my abilities,” Reader said. “Chess is just all about thinking ahead.”


Another player, junior Michael Kilburg, is also very confident for the upcoming season. Michael has grown up playing chess and gets the chance to play with his brother this season.


“It’s just something that I’m comfortable playing,” Kilburg said. “I enjoy the strategic thinking of trying to out maneuver your opponents.”


“I hope to help him[brother] and win competitions this year,” Kilburg said.


On Dec. 3, O’Donnell and his team played their first tournament against St. John Paul Catholic. All of their players won but a few, however, it was still an amazing first tournament with all three teams winning!


With a confident team and a confident coach, Imagine Prep’s chess team is hoping to go all the way this year; and we wish them good luck!