• The SOF Team

These Scrabble & Chess Champions have made a massive name for themselves in the board game community

Two board game players who have become champions in their field, which has been helping them make friends and build confidence.



Image source: Ian Samkov



Board games are something many families have shared time bonding over for years. But for Ricky Rodriguyez and Griffin McConnell, board games are a passion. Despite their difficulties, these champions have shocked the world by making a name for themselves in the gaming community.

Scrabble Star Lets Nothing Stand in the Way of Victory

Ricky Rodriguez was diagnosed with autism when he was just 18 months old. His mother Erin noticed his special interest in words when at the age of 3 he chose to read the dictionary over any other children’s book. This eventually led to a love for board games, especially Scrabble.


Before getting involved with the Scrabble community, Ricky would always be stressed about whether or not he would win a board game. However, after entering competitions and being involved with the Scrabble community, Ricky has fun whether he wins or loses and enjoys showing support to those around him.




Image source: San Antonio Express News


Ricky’s skill in this game has not gone unrecognized. He “has won 7 of 19 games at the World English Language Scrabble Players Association youth cup in Malaysia. The San Antonio native was one of 190 children from more than a dozen countries who competed in the tournament more than 9,700 miles from the Alamo city … In 2019, Ricky became a national champion for the youth Scrabble championship in Philadelphia with a third-place win.”


Along with Scrabble, Ricky also loves to play other word games against his grandmother. Ricky not only appreciates the awards he has won from Scrabble, but the confidence and friendships he has gained along the way.


17-Year-Old Wins Master Title in Chess - Despite His Various Brain Surgeries

As a child, Griffin McConnell suffered from seizures which required him to have various intensive surgeries on his brain. Due to this, he had to essentially relearn all aspects of his daily life, including how to play chess. Griffin loved to play chess and was not going to let his operations stop him from continuing to play.


Griffin not only relearned how to play chess, but earned the national master title on March 19, 2022 and ​​is currently in the top 99.3 percentile for junior players in the United States.




Image source: The Colorado Sun


Griffin’s talent in chess, despite the difficulties he has faced, has opened the door for various phenomenal opportunities in this community. Chess.com put together an entire documentary about Griffin, including an interview with one of the world’s top chess players Hikaru Nakamura.


Griffin’s father is currently organizing the first annual American Chess Cup For Children with Disabilities which is set to take place this June. Griffin strives to be an inspiration for other chess players who are facing similar challenges to him, and show them that nothing should stand in the way of their success.


At Sponsors of the Future, we strive to show appreciation for people who are making a name for themselves despite the challenges they have faced. Stories like these are incredible examples of why nothing should stop you from pursuing your dreams and having the potential to be recognized around the world.


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