Louisville High School Chess Club Inspires Students

Chess clubs at schools like Valley High help students get the most out of their high school experience.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Only a chess coach, who also happens to be a football coach, could turn a team of misfits into pros.

As Ron Hennig says, “We are the land of misfit toys”.

He coaches Valley High School’s chess team. Once a week, he opens his classroom to anyone interested in the game of chess.

On Monday night, this room was filled with players from the Portland neighborhood in Valley Station.

Valley senior Joseph Thomas said he gained a lot from the activity.

“I don’t know if I would be friends with someone I’m friends with now if I didn’t join chess,” Thomas said.

Beyond that, playing chess with the soccer coach has helped him eat healthier, exercise, and even deal with losses.

“It doesn’t seem like chess would cause that, but chess has such a butterfly effect. You meet new people and those people change your life,” he said.

“You never know what’s going to trigger a student,” Leslie Hennig said. She is the coach at Conway Middle School. They have won every regional since 2015.

His students eventually attend Valley and go on to chess. The high school has been the JCPS National Champion and District Champion twice since 2015.

Teddy Hennig is a student at Valley (as well as being Leslie and Ron’s son). He said: “We have a lot of victories, believe me, I mean behind you is a showcase of trophies. What I really like about this specific chess organization is being with my friends .”

Louisville teams are looking to expand their programs and reach diverse communities.

To learn more about the program in the Portland neighborhood, contact Fork Knights Chess Club at (502) 457-4938.

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