SIR Teopiz, as MOGCHS students would normally call him, keeps himself busy by giving lectures and motivating potential players in sight "in between" or after classes.
While fellow coach and trainor Wilson Asa made it a routine becoming a workhorse in ensuring that the chess program of the city's biggest and most popular public school will always be in the right place.
In doing so, Sir Asa paid no attention to fatigue, among other obstacles, since after classes in the afternoon; he would call on any budding prospects and spend precious time playing chess with them -- one on one -- if only to ensure that there's an improvement every day.
Both of them, of course, know the value of hardwork, patience and discipline in sports. And in a public school environment, they know better the importance of having "father figures" for student athletes to look up to or someone to guide and inspire them to work on their dreams.
And winning in a sports competition is a dream. It is something that they shared, a common goal. Most especially, in the chess event of the annual Mindanao Milo Little Olympics.
"In sports, particularly in the mind-boggling world of chess… there's no such thing as an overnight success. We have to connect with the best players around to establish some sort of a family bonding. We have to work doubly hard to reach our goal. For here in MOGCHS (Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School), we always believe that a family that plays and prays together will be able to win together. Daghan nga ampo ug paningkamot ra gyod among puhonan ini," said coach Chito Teopiz in a casual conversation with this writer.
True to his words, some weeks later, MOGCHS's chess family made a statement through a shocking accomplishment as they managed to dislodge the powerhouse Corpus Christi rivals as the new "Chess King" of the just-concluded 14th Milo Little Olympics.
MOGCHS swept the chess titles in secondary (boys and girls) team championships, though the road to victory was not easy.
Sizing up the archrivals' strength, MOGCHS's junior boys had been considered as a favorite by a slight margin over Corpus Christi Knights after the departure of the latter's valiant Knight (Lennon Hart Salgados) to college who is now a mainstay of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws.
That left a pair of CCS third year graders Keith Ibaoc and Chezter Coquilla to take the lead and face on the top boards the more seasoned tandem of Jesse Olanda and Abdul Khalid Musor who are now both in their final year.
But for the record, even with the presence of Salgados -- a many-time Milo chess board one champion -- MOGCHS surprised the Corpus Christi Knights last year. A feat that catapulted them to the inaugural show of Milo Little Olympics National Finals in Cebu City where it's "badge of entry" was duly justified by winning the national championship.
And now a rematch.
What had been expected as another thrilling face-off did happen in the penultimate sixth round. Paired against the youthful Leuvin Paul Salgados (1st year) and Christian Mario Pabillore (2nd year), the more experienced duo of Eduard Ian Amper and Lynyrd Aleksei Corrales fashioned out a quick twin-kill to give MOGCHS an overwhelming lead in the four-board battle.
They just need a draw on the remaining two boards to wrap up the win. But what followed later almost took the breath away from the Teopiz-Asa coaching tandem.
It appeared that Ibaoc was in a combative mood, grinding Olanda to submission in a wild and wooly Sicilian encounter.
Not a big deal. Anyway, the 16-year-old Musor is the only three-time MVP in the Milo sports yet unsurpassed until now. Musor has the solid record and vast experience on his side to secure the win or even just a draw, which they needed. But the much younger Coquilla came seething with revenge, shaking Musor with a multi-faceted attack that developed from an old-fashioned Ponziani Opening. Suddenly, the keenly-awaited "rematch" of the year went to a 2-all deadlock.
"I am totally surprised. I had no answer as he detonated the bomb out from that very old Ponziani Opening," confessed a dazed and confused Musor.
So the atmosphere at the playing venue: either side might win the secondary boys crown.
And how about the secondary girls rivalry?
Head for head, MOGCHS'S lady woodpushers are "too little-known" to possibly upset Corpus Christi's cast of last year's National Finals champion, not to mention its two Palarong Pambansa veterans on board one and two.
As expected, it was a mismatch on the top board with Eure Faith Sabuga finding her mentor in CCS reliable and one-time MVP Alyssa Ysaiah Jamaca. But "Asset product" Anne Rose Manilhig produced an upset win over Nicole Anne Rivera on board 2 to level the score.
With one game left, Corpus Christi must have heaved a sigh of relief when Monique Rodriguez was able to establish a winning position against Mary Jeanette Yebes. Alas, Rodriguez's nerves cracked under time pressure. She was ahead in materials plus a "pain-in-the-neck" queening passed pawn when her time fell.
Some kibitzers cracked a joke, calling it as "victory sleeping in defeat". But to sir Teopiz, Yebes' win by time forfeiture was the answer to "Our Prayer".
Even a match debacle to the Carol Ann Chua-led Merry Child School in the final round could not stop MOGCHS from winning the secondary girls team championship. The Asa-Teopiz's girls (SB 43.00) won over fellow 8-pointer MCS (SB 31.50), Tagoloan National High School (SB 15.00) and St. Mary's School (13.25) via tiebreaker.
Back to their secondary boys counterparts, Musor and company won their final match against Iligan City National High School. And so Corpus Christi did opposite another team from Iligan, the La Salle Academy.
MOGCHS and Corpus Christi ended up in a tie for first at 13 points each among 31 teams. But MOGCHS edged Corpus Christi out in the Bucholz tiebreak, 110.00 to 104.00 to bag the title.
It was MOGCHS's first ever title romp off in both the secondary boys and girls championships. And they attributed it all to the kind of attitude MOGCHS family had painstakingly built through years of ups and down.