To the FCA Members and Florida Chess Community at large,
Thanks for all the well wishes in person, over email, social media and even on Chess.com. The outpouring has taken me by surprise and only serves to punctuate the need to make sure we build upon our past success and continue to work toward being one of the best State Affiliates in US Chess.
With this month being our country's traditional time for reflection and Thanksgiving, we should all be appreciative of what we have for chess in our state. In the South, chess is thriving with many clubs, top-notch players all over the place and big tournaments that easily draws over 150 players. Jon Haskel is almost a household name among chess players, and the Turkey Bowl event had over 200 players this year. Their scholastic scene is also strong with efforts from Bryan Tillis and the Palm Beach CC and their myriad of chess program offerings. The Orlando area often serves as the hub for statewide and National events with activities driven by the Central Florida Chess Club and US Chess hosting Scholastic National events there every year. They also have very strong chess training and a vibrant chess scene with clubs. The North had rebounded with three events in the last 12 months drawing over 100 players after the infusion of the 2017 State Championship being held there in September. In the West, you can play "Chess with Cohez" on Wednesday evenings in a pub setting or attend club events in Naples with the Southwest Florida chess club. Then there is the "Gainesville phenomenon" of a little town with annual national title expectations, not just in gymnasiums or on their many fields of play. They are Titletown for chess thanks to programs like The Oak Hall School and Williams Elementary producing grade level championships and even drawing international recognition with elementary chess player excellence via coaches like Tim Tusing and Migual Ararat.
Florida is also on the leading front with getting girls more involved in chess with the Jacksonville Chess Club's Annual Queen's Cup and Tampa's TD/Coach Krista Alton & family hosting All-Girl events are just the beginning. In fact, we will host our first Women's/Girls Championship event in 2019.
As President, I also intend to put more effort toward helping to fan the flame of chess in the Panhandle too. I have been in direct contact with a few key people who are trying to chess build activity, and they need our support. Our state is huge, but we should find ways to help that ONE extra club or school whenever we can.
Finally, there are countless volunteers who organize, teach, finance, and tournament direct on so many levels. They are not forgotten for their often thankless service to our passion and sport. That being said, there is a lot of work required to make the 3rd largest state in the USA one of the best for chess.
Join us as we continue on this journey. When we stop for a moment and take a look back at what we have in Florida, it is nothing short of amazing. We're going to build it even bigger.
To the Florida Chess Community:
First, I want to thank the Board of Directors for electing me to this position of trust and promise. I may be new to a lot of our +300 registered members, but I've been around the Florida chess scene for a couple of years now as a player, organizer, tournament director and volunteer primarily in the Jacksonville, Florida area.
My chess background: I have been member of US Chess since the 1980's , but never played a tournament game. I joined because I wanted Chess Life magazine. I loved to play, but all my games were with my Fidelity Chess computer while studying books written by Larry Evans and I.A. Horowitz. In 2014, started playing chess after a long absence via the Chess.com app. After a few dozen games I thought I should find out where people in JAX were playing to join them. My inquiries led me to a tournament that very weekend and there I met William Bowman and Steve Lampkin. I enjoyed playing that day (won 2 of 5 rounds and a provisional rating of 1350). I then asked if I could join their club. To my suprise they told me the old Jacksonville Chess Club was no more and they were trying to keep some level of rated chess going in the area. I offered to help. We rebuilt the Jacksonville Chess Club and I'm happy to say chess is back in Northeast Florida - BIG TIME. I believe some of my learnings can translate into good things for our beloved sport and our entire state.
Professionally, I am a Sr. Operations Manager for Johnson & Johnson Vision and my team is responsible for distributing our contact lenses around the world from our manufacturing plant in Jacksonville. It is a wonderful job and has taught me so much about quality, connecting with people, leading groups, having a customer focus and the importance of delivering value added change.
It is my hope to pick up where William left off with continuing to deliver needed change to our organization. I look forward to meeting many of you and working to serve you in my new position.
Feel free to email at anytime firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or ideas you may have on growing our sport in our state.