Thirty-one years from student to coach
By ALLAN TINKER
The year was 1987 and Jason Axt was just seven years old. Doris Fischer was an elementary teacher in McClusky School District with an idea of starting something good for kids to do that wasn’t sports.
The result was a chess club and Axt played until he was 17 years old.
The motto of the US Chess Federation is “empowering people through chess, one move at a time.” The idea Fischer had was a good and lasting one and one of her first students has returned to pass on the skills he has learned.
“The team I was on during those years won five state championships. Our kindergarten through 12th grade won, all four divisions inclusive, 17 documented state championships. Seven of these were in the high school division.”
Earlier this year, the McClusky Chess team won third at a state competition in the high school division and seventh place in the kindergarten through third grade division. Dawson Felchle was the highest individual in third grade for 2018.
Axt tries to coach all students so that they have a chance to compete for state championships while in high school. “Do better than you did the last time,” is what he expects them to do. It is a route to developing the skills to know you have grown better and more skillful than you were before, a powerful motivator.