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The Warrior Word

The Warrior Word

The Warrior Word

Chess team surprises head coach Penne

Assistant coach Michael Gottemoller takes a picture of himself wearing the glasses. After taking pictures of many others wearing the glasses he showed them to head coach Joel Penne before giving the glasses to him.
Assistant coach Michael Gottemoller takes a picture of himself wearing the glasses. After taking pictures of many others wearing the glasses he showed them to head coach Joel Penne before giving the glasses to him.

  Every team has a way of bringing each other together. From team dinners to hanging out together outside of school, teams go out of their way to ensure they have the best possible chemistry. However, the chess team recently went above and beyond with their bonding.

 Head chess coach Joel Penne had lost his colorblind glasses a while back and never got them replaced. Assistant chess coach Michael Gottemoller decided to coordinate a surprise and buy Penne a new pair.

  Penne said, “We preach to our players that it’s important to treat each other like family and team building has a special place within the Sterling Chess program. I was extremely proud and humbled to find out that the money for these glasses, which are expensive, were funded by our chess players and coaches.”

 In order to find the information needed for the glasses, Gottemoller tricked Penne into telling him where Penne’s wife worked in the school so that he could email her. Throughout the year, Gottemoller “would ask questions regarding those glasses.” He even had Penne take the colorblind test in front of him.

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 Gottemoller decided to label the surprise “Operation Autumn Underground” and announced his idea to the team at an away meet. He explained he would take donations from the team and he would cover what was left of the price.

 Senior chess player Jose Figueroa said, “We had to make sure to keep quiet and keep him on his feet, he never saw it coming!”

 Then, about two weeks before giving Penne the glasses at a practice, Gottemoller announced to the team “Operation Autumn Underground has commenced, and The Bird is in the Air!” Penne was agitated at the comment as he thought no one truly knew what that meant. He asked the team if anyone knew what that statement meant and almost the whole team raised their hands. 

 A few days before the glasses were delivered, Gottemoller told Penne that “the bird has almost landed.” At that point, Penne was extremely frustrated as he thought that Gottemoller was going to divide the team.  

  When the glasses arrived, Gottemellor had told everyone “The Bird is in the Nest!” Gottemoller started taking pictures of team members with the glasses on to show to Penne before he gave him the glasses. He even took a picture of the glasses near Penne without showing him.

 Before the last practice of the year, Gottemoller asked if he could get 10 minutes at the beginning of practice. At this point, half of the school staff, the chess team, and half of his family had contributed to the surprise. He began the practice by showing Penne the pictures of the team members. Then, Gottemoller had a couple of team members who brought in colored balloons and gave the glasses to Penne, and Penne was able to easily identify the colors of the balloons. “The Bird had a new home!”



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About the Contributor
Yamaan Alkhalaf, Photo Editor
Senior Yamaan Alkhalaf is a photo editor and has been in publications for one year. Yamaan is involved in Soccer, Tennis, Student Council, Scholastic Bowl, Key Club, NHS, and Young Doctors League. He enjoys watching professional soccer and hanging out with friends. He plans on going to college in Chicago and attending medical school to become a physician.
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