At age 7, Gregory Rogers left his drama club to join his school’s chess team. That weekend, he played in a tournament and won a trophy. It happened to be blue—his favorite color. He was hooked.
“Chess got me out of the ghetto, traveling,” says Rogers, a North Philly native who now lives in Wilmington. “I got to stay in hotels and experience things I had never experienced.”
Rogers, who turns 40 this month, started Chess Masters of Delaware so that local children in preschool through 12th grade could also experience the benefits of chess. He says those benefits include raising their self-esteem, developing critical thinking and even helping them boost their grades.
Some of Rogers’ students have learning disabilities, others are from low-income families. Three of Rogers’ own children have found success through Chess Masters.
Rogers, who plans to file for nonprofit status so he can seek grant money and ultimately construct a facility, coaches about 100 children. They practice regularly and have performed well at local, regional and national tournaments, capturing numerous individual and team titles.
Peg Walz, whose grandson plays with Chess Masters of Delaware, is a big fan of Rogers. “He can relate to the kids,” she says. “He wants them to develop as a whole person.”
Rogers says his mission is simple: “I just want to spread the word that chess is a great game.”