BACON: Chess Team Wins State Boxing Championship


Photos courtesy of ESPN 2023.

Owen Yu, Staff Writer

Mid-march marks the end of the boxing season for schools across Illinois. However, without a team this year, Whitney Young resorted to signing up the next best option: the chess team. When asked about this controversial decision, this is what Whitney Young students and family had to say:

      “I mean, it makes sense. They’ve won like 6 of their past 11 state championships right?” said an ackie in the hallways. 

     “I think it’s a great move. The best boxers win with their brains. Who better than the chess team?” remarked a parent.

     “We have boxing?” said Raymond Gu, senior frackie. 

Although this decision was met with a majority of supportive responses, there were still students who were “concerned” for the safety of the team and the lack of experience. 

 “I just don’t think they should be boxing. They’re competing against people who have been boxing for a while now and boxing is not the safest sport. I think we should just not compete this year.” said an anonymous senior student in Ms. Au’s 1st period class. 

These members, however, are quickly denounced for being irrational, demotivating, and detrimental to the academic and athletic excellence standard held at Whitney Young. 

Even with the outpouring of support by the fans, the chess team lost their first match in crushing fashion to their eventual opponents in the finale, Stevenson. With all 8 of their competitors being knocked out within 3 rounds, coach Daniel Hart commented on the team’s mindset:

“I think they severely underestimated their opponents. They were being too cocky. Their head wasn’t in the game. We have to change that. It was embarrassing.”

With that, the chess team won their next few matches in dominating fashion, beating Payton, Lane Tech, Naperville North, Lyons Township, and New Trier with barely any match making it past 8 rounds. However, Whitney Young had one more hurdle to jump over. The finals, against none other than Stevenson, where they had been sent to the lower bracket against. 

Whitney Young initially went down 1-2 losing boards 6 and 7 and  winning board 8, but quickly tied it up by winning both the 4 and 5 boards, losing the thirds board. The score was now 3-3. This is what the chess team members had to say during the break:“It was just like the board envisioned it, I created and exposed weaknesses in my opponent and it was easy from there. Since he was shorter, it was up to him to close the distance, and my uppercuts were landing. I controlled the fight easily.” said Kevin Yang. 

“I’m aggressive on the chess board. I think that translates well into boxing, by giving constant pressure to the opponent. I can take a hit and wear them down just like sacrificing a piece for the attack,” said Gunn Kim. 

In a nailbiter board game decided by decision, Stevenson went up 4-3. Now it was up to the last member to win the final game to win through round differential. And, on the 12th round of the match with 40 seconds left on the round, Sami Khan baited a jab and threw a brain-rattling right cross to seal the deal. The crowd erupted with cheers as the players relished their victory. 

“I knew they could do it,” said a crying, emotional parent. 

“It was literally mind-blowing,” said coach Daniel Hart. 

“It’s amazing. I can’t wait to see what else they can do,” said principal Rickey Harris. 

With that, the Whitney Young chess team concludes a record breaking run earning the school its first ever boxing state championship.