INDEPENDENCE, Mo.— A new season of high school chess begins this month in the metro area. This week’s Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achiever figures to be one of the top players in Missouri once again. And Jeremy Heitzman figures to be a top performer in many other things away from the chess board, as well.
Jeremy Heitzman does it a lot — playing several members of the Van Horn High School chess team all at the same time — winning every game and often tutoring his teammates in the process. A bright, aggressive player, Jeremy’s even whipping his coach now three out of every four matches they play.
“I think Jeremy is a top 10 Missouri player again this year easily,” says John Sutton, coach of the Van Horn chess team. “This trophy, even though slightly broken, probably is my favorite trophy,” says Jeremy as he proudly displays a table full of trophies and medals. “It’s the first trophy I ever won in third grade and it’s a first place trophy.”
That’s the year Jeremy started playing chess competitively and the hardware’s been mounting up ever since. The trophies and medals he brought in to show FOX 4 were just a small sample of the dozens he has from tournaments he’s won or finished very high in including several national competitions.
“I find it really enjoyable,” says Jeremy about how chess has such a hold on him. “It’s mentally challenging and it gives you good satisfaction knowing you are learning something.”
As he has become a top player in scholastic chess, Jeremy has developed critical thinking skills — strategic thinking– that has enabled him to become a champion performer in many other pursuits, as well. He’s a powerhouse at Van Horn in academics, debate and mock trial. And outside school, he’s a successful small businessman. Jeremy’s been doing landscaping jobs for clients since he was 14. And he has plans to make it a much bigger enterprise — and create other businesses — even as he gets started on a college track to become a lawyer.
“I enjoy the sensation of knowing I’m doing something and doing something well,” says Jeremy. “I like being able to achieve things. I don’t like being bored.”
Ironically, staying so busy doing so much at such a high level probably is holding Jeremy back from becoming an even more formidable chess player since he doesn’t devote all his time to the board. But his coach has no doubt about what will eventually happen for the two time captain and star of his team.
“I think he will probably be a grand master some day,” says Sutton. Masterful in so many ways.