ASAP HERO HIGHLIGHT: Shemail Wilson, Chess Coach

As a finalist for the Wawa Hero Award(click here to vote) ASAP is highlighting the many heroes who lend their time and talents to engage & inspire children throughout Philadelphia. Today, ASAP celebrates Shemail Wilson,
Chess Coach at the Salvation Army Citadel.

“There’s so many lessons I get from chess, it’s incredible, but I think the biggest thing for me has always been that losing is learning.” —Maurice Ashley, the first Jamaican-American chess grandmaster

For many new chess players, the hardest but often the most valuable concept to teach is that mistakes are a key part to becoming a better player. The best chess coaches seize these moments to help students think carefully and critically about their decisions — to be the voice inside their head that says “you can do this, just take your time and find the right move.”

For the last six years, Mr. Shemail Jackson has been that voice inside the heads of dozens of students at Salvation Army Citadel in Lawncrest. Working mostly with younger students and novice players, Mr. Shemail often encounters kids who think chess is too intimidating or is simply not for them.

“[Mr. Shemail] gave me confidence. Because of him I learned patience and to never quit.” — Kyle Andrews, 3rd grade

Competing in tournaments is a great way to motivate students, but it can also be an emotional rollercoaster. Yet, win or lose, Mr. Shemail’s gentleencouraging manner has made him a hero to the students in the Salvation Army Citadel chess club.

“Mr. Shemail taught me everything I know about chess. He taught me not to cheat, to concentrate on my game, and not to brag when you win.” —Alfonso Edmonds, 3rd grade

Although no one is bragging, with each year the Salvation Army Citadel has seen more and more success at major tournaments. This January, the Salvation Army chess team had their best performance to-date, finishing in 2nd place in the K-8 unrated section of ASAP’s largest tournament, the PECO-ASAP Checkmate Violence Chess Marathon.

And the chess board isn’t the only place Mr. Shemail’s students have become more successful: “Chess taught me a lot in life. Being on the team taught me not to be late because in chess you need perfect attendance. After playing chess for two years, honestly, my grades went up high. Now I get straight A’s.” — Jinaan Reyad Deeb, 3rd grade

Today we salute all the heroes like Mr. Shemail who teach children to search for inspiration in failure and to display grace in victory. We hope you will join us in celebrating all of ASAP’s heroes by voting ASAP for the Wawa Hero Award.With your help, ASAP can win up to $50,000 to celebrate and support the many caring adults who make Philadelphia a safer, smarter and more confident city one after school club at a time.