I’m not sure if it was my idea or my parent’s idea for me to join the Esther Jackson Elementary Chess Club, but I am glad I was introduced to chess at a very early age. I started learning chess in the fourth grade and I’ve been playing ever since. I don’t remember my chess teacher’s name, but as far as I was concerned he was a chess master. I never beat him, but he always taught me something new about the game.
I started competing in chess tournaments around Roswell in fifth grade. I lost my fair share, but I also placed at a couple of them. If nothing else, I was a tough opponent because I learned something from every chess match that made me better. Win, lose or draw I got better at chess by being a student of the game. Which, as far as I am concerned, is the only way to approach any game. If I looked at chess as a game where I knew everything I would not have learned anything.
It is important to remain a student of the game throughout your playing days. For chess that meant playing against my computer ever chance I got, watching “Searching For Bobby Fischer,” and playing against my best friend often. For lacrosse that meant practicing my off-hand for a whole month until it was better than my strong hand. It meant watching the best defensemen in the NCAA championship games on Memorial Day weekend, and asking tons of questions whenever I went to a lacrosse camp. I wasn’t the fastest, the strongest, or the best stick checker but I could see the entire game.
I remember playing with a bird’s-eye view of the field. I played the game like I was playing chess, directing my teammates around on the field with different commands because I knew where the ball was going to be before it got there. My dad calls this game sense or Lacrosse IQ, but really it is just anticipation. Because I was a student of the game for so many years I could get into the flow of the game better than most. This helped me earn playing time despite my lack of size and speed.
My experiences with chess taught me patience, and my experiences with lacrosse taught me decisiveness. When combined those two qualities create a solid chess player and a capable lacrosse player. However, if you are not a student of your game then all you will learn is frustration. Even if you are the biggest, strongest, fastest player out there. You must combine patience and decisiveness in order to become a complete player. If you lean too heavily on patience you will never be in the right spot at the right time, and if you don’t learn decisiveness you will never get to the right spot fast enough.
If you are serious about becoming the best lacrosse player you can be I highly recommend learning and playing chess. You will learn strategy and increase your ability to see the big picture, which will serve you well on the lacrosse field.