Tag: Jalen Jones

Maywood Library Club Produces 13-Year-Old Chess Champion


Gordon Hanson, center, with Rickover tournament participants (left to right): Kaitlyn Franco, Jocelyn Gutierrez, Roslyn Gutierrez, Dimitri Stubblefield, Jalen Jones, Yanni Smith and Carter Dawson. | Submitted photo

Thursday, February 16, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 2 p.m.

The Maywood Library Chess Club meets every week at the Maywood Public Library under the direction of former library trustee Gordon Hanson, the club’s founder, and coach. They are old and young, but mostly young — one as young as seven.

The meetings, Hanson noted in a recent interview, are often marked by pizza and some laughs. But don’t let the levity fool you. These kids are serious, Hanson says.

“They’re really passionate about the game of chess,” he said. “They don’t give me an ounce of trouble.”

That discipline is starting to pay dividends. Hanson said that Irving Middle School 7th-grader Jalen Jones, 13, took first place at a recent chess tournament co-sponsored by the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago and held at Hyman Rickover Naval Academy High School in Chicago on Feb. 11.

“Jalen is a very smart kid, and so are the other members,” Hanson said. “I have seven kids, including three girls, and they all did very well at the tournament.”

Hanson said that his kids shined in a competition that featured nearly 400 participants who came from all over the Chicago area — from as far away as Aurora and Schaumburg.

Since its founding last April, Hanson said, the Maywood Chess Club has produced three tournament champions. In addition to Jones, Carter Dawson and Miguel Moreno have also won tournaments in their respective categories.

Hanson said that he hopes that the club can become financially sustainable. He’s received funding from Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley in the past, he said, but for the most part, he’s been supporting the organization with his own funds.

The club meets on Wednesdays, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Maywood Public Library, 121 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. The chess club is designed for all skill levels — from the beginners to the strategically advanced.

“Chess is not only enjoyable but helps develop numerous skills in thinking and strategy formation,” the club’s website notes.

For more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit club, contact Hanson at (773) 600-2187 or hgordonhanson@cs.com. You can also visit the club’s web page here. VFP

CORRECTION: This post has been revised to reflect Jones’ correct age. He is 13 years old and in 7th grade, not 12 years old and in the 6th grade. VFP regrets the error.

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From Maywood To The Ivy League: The Stratospheric Ambitions of Marquan Jones

Marquan Jones II

Marquan Jones IWednesday, December 30, 2015 || By Nicholas Samuel || Updated: 6:08 PM

Marquan Jones, a senior at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy, cried as he was recognized in front of thousands at a local basketball game Monday night for being accepted into Cornell University, an American private Ivy League school in Ithaca, New York.

The audience cheered and clapped as an announcer listed Jones’s credentials, which include his status as a three-sport athlete and as an inductee into the National Honor Society.

“When they started reading off the things I did, it was like waterworks. My mom was consoling me,” Jones said. “I always told my mom how I would do all of these amazing things. To actually accomplish those are amazing.”

The crowd gave Jones, 18, a standing ovation as he stood in the center of the basketball court at the 2015 Proviso West Holiday Tournament at Proviso West High School in Hillside. He was joined at center court by his mother Chanicka Jones, his father Eric Jones, his brother Jalen Jones, 12, and his sister Ericka Jones, 7.

“I had my whole family there with me, was able to show my family to the world and how much of a support system I have,” said Jones, who lives in Maywood. “I got my name out there and earned the support of thousands of alumni. That’s greater value than any plaque or monetary reward.”

Chanicka said she’s very proud of her son and that this is the first of his many accomplishments.

“When he was in second grade, he always said he wanted to go to an Ivy League school. He even said he wanted to be president,” Chanicka said. “It’s really an indescribable feeling. I always knew he had it in him.”

Dr. Patrick Hardy, principal of Proviso East High School in Maywood and Theresa Kelly, board president for Proviso Township High Schools District 209 also joined Jones at center court for his moment of recognition.

Jones, who holds a 4.714 GPA at PMSA, plans to attend Cornell University next Fall and major in Food Science. He wants to mentor kids on financial literacy and how to keep a healthy diet.

The 18-year-old is a member of the debate and theater clubs at PMSA, but plays basketball, football and track at Proviso East since those sports aren’t offered at PMSA. He’s captain of the varsity track team and co-captain of the varsity football team.

Scottie Ware, who coached Jones in track, football and basketball for all four years of high school, said Jones has as much tenacity for athletics as he has for the books.

He said the 18-year-old has a great deal of drive and determination, and is a great example for kids who will come behind him.

“His nickname is ‘5.0,’ because that’s normally what his GPA was,” Ware said. “I want the entire Proviso Township to realize that kids can make it out and go to Ivy League schools.”

Ware, who has coached sports at Proviso East for 12 years, said the high school has had students in the past who have applied to Ivy League schools, but that Jones is the first to be accepted to one.

“Marquan was very coachable and very respectful. He wasn’t the most athletic, but hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard; he’s an example of that,” Ware said. “I look forward to the day when we put his picture up on the wall of fame at the school. Marquan will be the next one to hit that wall.”

Jones helped lead East’s track team to fourth place at the West Suburban Gold Conference meet last year. He said he prides himself in being a renaissance man.

“I know a lot of kids that have higher GPA’s than me, but it’s like they’re robots that just sit in the room all day and do nothing but their homework,” Jones said. “When you spend all of your time on one thing, you’re going to be good only at that one thing. The real challenge is being good at multiple things.”

Jones said his parents instilled in him that they would support him in anything he does.

“If I didn’t like sports, they would support that,” Jones said. “They want to teach me how to think, not what to think. From that I found my own passion and will to be successful. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.’ Make sure you question everything; just because something is like this in the world doesn’t mean it has to be. You can change it.” VFP

A previous version of this article incorrectly noted that Jones led his track team to second place at the West Suburban Gold Conference meet, instead of fourth. This post has since been updated. We regret the error. 

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