University Prep team lands national chess titles

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Members of the University Prep Science and Math Elementary and Middle School chess teams practice every day, whether it’s in school, online or at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

That hard work paid off when they returned home national champions Sunday at the Supernationals IV Tournament in Nashville.

The teams from Detroit won first-place titles in the K6 under 1400 and the K8 under 750 sections.

“I feel good about how well my team did,” said Cameron Rector, a sixth-grader.

In addition to the team’s wins, Rector was named top chess player after taking the individual National Championships title in the “K8 under 750” section.

Competing alongside 379 players, Rector won all seven games.

“I feel very proud of myself that I won first place,” he said. “This is the biggest thing that’s happened for me in terms of chess.”

The wins this past weekend join a long list of accomplishments for the chess teams at the school, which sits inside the Michigan Science Center. The school celebrated its returning champions with a party Tuesday afternoon.

“We are extremely proud of our UPSM elementary and middle school chess teams for winning this year’s national championships, and honored to have the nation’s top chess player as a student at our schools,” said Mark Ornstein, CEO of University Prep Schools and Detroit 90/90. “These amazing students are a shining example of what is possible with hard work and a passion for the game of chess. We are committed to giving our students remarkable opportunities through the dedication of our faculty and the community.”

Rector, 12, thanked his coach, Kevin Fite, the DIA for allowing the team space to practice and his school for raising money for the trip to Nashville for the competition.

“I’m looking forward to going down there again and winning some games,” he said.

The team lost almost 20 of their top players when they graduated last year, said Fite, the UPSM Middle School Chess coach.

“... Our players proved that with hard-work, dedication and setting goals, you can achieve anything you set out to do,” he said. “To have a group of Detroit kids bring back two National Chess Championships and the top player in the United States is a feat showing their Motor City grit.”

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