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Student Saves Girl’s Life at Illinois State Chess Tournament

By Juli Doshan on April 14, 2015 hst Print

Chess can be a mentally exhausting game. Thinking of your opponent’s moves and the counter moves you can make, often anticipating many moves into the future, can be stressful and draining. Luckily, Andrew Wilson, a sophomore member of the Streamwood (Illinois) High School chess team, used that quick thinking to save a 7-year-old girl’s life in February.

Wilson had just finished a long four-game day at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state chess tournament in Peoria, Illinois and was eating dinner with a friend when they heard screams coming from the pool area at the hotel where the team was staying. Initially thinking nothing of it, Wilson and his friend continued eating before the reason for the screaming became known.

“We both agreed it was probably just a bunch of kids playing in the pool,” Wilson said. “After a while, a man came in and said that some girl had a seizure and asked if anyone in the lobby knew CPR.
“I said I did, ran in, gave CPR and revived her.”

Wilson had become certified in CPR less than a year ago as part of the Elgin Explorers Group, which is conducted by the Elgin Police Department for teenagers interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. There, Wilson learned about being a police officer, just like his father who is on the Elgin Police Force.

“I didn’t expect to have to use [the certification] at all,” Wilson said. “I remember during training, I said, ‘I don’t understand why I’m going to need this.’”

The rest of the weekend in Peoria was uneventful, even with three more chess matches the next day, Wilson said. The Streamwood chess team didn’t win the tournament, but they brought home a hero.

Wilson was recognized at a ceremony on March 6, where he received a proclamation from Illinois Senator Michael Noland and an award from the police department. Both he and his chess coach, Pat Hanley, won awards from the U46 School District at the ceremony as well.

“While you may not have won the chess tournament, you’re definitely a winner in our eyes,” Board Member Traci O’Neal Ellis said while presenting the certificates of achievement.

It’s not surprising that Wilson wants to be a police officer or lawyer someday, so the awards ceremony was especially meaningful.

“I was happy,” Wilson said. “It made me feel good.”