Former Students

While my opponent is thinking about surviving the first period, I’m already thinking about how I’m going to beat him in the second period. Always stay a step ahead of your opponent and develop your strategy to win, Surf N Chess helped me think ahead!

– Henry Cejudo
Olympic Gold Medalist for Wrestling, Professional Mixed Martial Artist, and Author


I joined the Surf n Chess Club at the age of 11 and quickly realized that chess was more than a board game. Chess is about having a strategy to beat your opponent with a series of different pieces, all having different role and value. I learned through chess that if you make the correct choices in life, just like in the game, you too can become the Big Kahuna regardless of your background or situation.

-Jesse Abarca
Former Marine, winner of Tim Hogan “Big Kahuna Chess Tournament”, and successful real estate agent


Looking back, the club taught me some important life lessons. While I did win many games, I also lost a lot. Handling losing and being able to learn and move after a loss provided a valuable lesson. This was especially motivated by the ranking system, which is based on levels of surfing. You had to win “a lot” of games to get to the ultimate surfing status of “Kahuna”. So, one loss was just simply a small bump in the long journey. I want to finish by saying to the current students of SNC club: keep at it, keep getting better, and above all, have fun. 20 years from now, you will remember this.

-Bryan Russell
Doctorate from MIT, lives and works in Paris, France and was the first winner of the annual Tim Hogan “Kahuna Class” Memorial Chess Tournament


Surf n Chess was a great club that allowed me to have fun while exercising my mind. Chess is an incredible game of thinking, planning and strategy and being introduced to these elements at an early age help develop a child mentally. Surf n Chess also made me several friends and allowed me to have a great time after school while keeping me off the streets.

-Roger Abarca
National Honors Society, Homecoming King, varsity wrestling and track, full ride ASU scholarship.


Surf n Chess Club at Pueblo del Sol was a really great program because it gave me a chance to hang out with friends and I learned an amazing game that I would have otherwise never learned.

-Hao Ly
ASU graduate and future high profile journalist


Surf and Chess was the highlight of my childhood and was the coolest club at Pueblo! You rock Mr. Neely for keeping this club alive!

-Krystal Short


Surf n Chess had an impact in my life by keeping me busy after school and out of trouble. It taught me that in order to win at something or in life you have to plan an attack (Strategy).

-Luigi Garcia
College student and artist extraordinaire


Great to know one of the greatest school clubs had made facebook… former Pueblo Del Sol student graduate of Maryvale High School and now serving as a United States Marine over in Okinawa Japan.. it was an amazing time having to have played against my fellow students and be such a challenging and great game from the Great Kahuna from PDS baby!! Mr. Neely you rock!! Keep playing and surfing baby.. Semper Fidelis (Latin for Always Faithful) and OORAAH!!!! From the Marines in Okinawa Japan!!!

-Manny Soto
One awesome Marine, serving his country


I was involved in The Surf & Chess club during my years at Pueblo Del. I loved hanging out after school learning how to play chess and listening to surf music. For and kids who are on the fence of whether they should join or not give it a shot, you won’t regret it!

-Angel Cejudo
4x state wrestling champion @ Maryvale High School 151-0, currently wrestling internationally and brother of Olympic Gold Medal winner, Henry Cejuido


“Surf N Chess has now been with District Spirit for 2 years, and has created a true following in our school. Classes of 50 kids congregate at our school an hour before school at 7:15am to play chess and rock out to surf music! The kids are thinking critically, competing amicably, and developing problem solving skills. Surf N Chess staff is extremely nurturing while also pushing kids to in their chess and academic skills in and out of the classroom! We LOVE Surf n Chess at Desert!!!”

-Moira Ogata
After School Director for Desert Spirit Elementary School
Sep. 8, 2014


“As a program provider, Pat and his staff provide high quality chess classes with the surfing theme. Chess classes help students develop critical thinking skills, practice estimations and other math-based strategies’. Surf and Chess has been an excellent partner in providing outstanding services in our after school and summer programs. In the 2011/12 school year Surf and Chess held six classes serving over 120 students.
The Surf and Chess classes are engaging, educational, and fun for students. Surf and Chess is a very reliable and professional program provider. We give this organization highest recommendation and look forward to future projects with Pat Neely. It has been our pleasure to work with Pat and his staff in Washington Elementary School Distract.”

-Kathleen McKeever, MA
Administrator of After School Programs for Washington Elementary School District
May 23, 2012

“The Surf N Chess Club is, without a doubt, the post popular L.E.A.D. program we offer; I have never seen such a waiting list in my time here at Imagine. I can already see the positive impact it has given to the students involved with your program. I have seen many students who struggle academically but now have been given a new found confidence when participating in Surf N Chess.”

-Mindy Cassidy
L.E.A.D.S. Coordinator
Nov. 27, 2012


“We started our Surf N’ Chess Club in September of 2013 and our students have completely loved it! We had over 40 students in grades 3-8 playing chess every Monday in our library. The excitement that is show on our students’ faces is indescribable. It is an absolute wonderful experience for students that gives them a sense of belonging and helps to raise student achievement. This year we have over 50 students signed up for our Surf N’ Chess Club that starts in September.”

-Liz Burton
Tartesso Elementary School
Aug. 28, 2014


“Recognition of Service presented with sincere appreciation to Patrick Neely for your outstanding and dedicated services and support to the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Thank you Surf ‘n’ Chess Club.”

-Elmar Cobos
Adobe-Black Canyon School Complex Superintendent
Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections
Aug. 17, 2011


“The SurfnChess Club after school program was absolutely the best opportunity for kids to develop advanced thinking skills than anything I have ever been involved in. The students of Landmark learned a lifelong skill that provided them with unique problem solving techniques and strategies.”

-Dennis Micelli
After School Director for Landmark School
May 15, 2012


“Pat Neely is a positive influence for kids who will be an asset to any entity seeking a dependable professional who truly cares about kids. In my roles as both a teacher and administrator, I witnessed firsthand the difference Pat Neely made in the lives of children. His contributions to their lives came in many different respects that benefited students, teachers, parents, and administrators of the selected campuses.”

-Alex Mada
C.W. Harris Elementary School Assistant Principal