She is shy, humble, and powerful. Daiana Espindola, Esperanza Academy Charter High School student, sat with us and talked about her transformative experiences as captain of the EA all-girls chess team.
Aside from her academic responsibilities Daiana dedicates her time to the chess, volleyball and cheerleading teams at the academy. She loves communicating and meeting new people.
Daiana’s childhood was not always joyful. She asserts that she didn’t think she was going to accomplish much. But, since she joined the EA chess team, she truly believes she can change the world and give something back. Chess helped her “get her life together”.
“I try to do articles and spread the message that girls should play this game. Chess inspires you to enjoy life and see it in a different way when you are on the board. It just made me a better person,” says the Esperanza Academy student.
When she was in seventh grade, it was her coach, Ms. Gabrielle Moshier, that motivated her to join the team. “You should play because you are going to be the first girl in the team and you could change the future,” remembers Daiana that her teacher told her to encourage her to start playing chess. And she did.
“I’m happy with what I am doing in life and if it makes me happy I do it,” says Espindola.
Now, she assures that the most meaningful part of being on the Esperanza Chess “Queens” team, is “just being a part of it. Being part of the family.”
“Every weekend going to tournaments, having fun, always playing around. I am really happy they are in my life because they changed me,” she says.
A big part of that family is Ms. Gabrielle Moshier, or “Moshier” as Daiana calls her. “She has always been there, in my bad sides and my good sides.”
Playing in a male-dominated sport
When Ms. Moshier persuaded Daiana to join the team she did it in part because she was going to be the first girl to join it.
Being one of the few girls in the tournaments didn’t make things easy for her at the beginning. According to the student, she noticed that boys underestimated her because of her gender. Now, she affirms she is constantly trying to inspire more girls to break the status quo. She believes that each gender can be inspired by the other, and everybody can do something for a change.
Nevertheless, slowly, Daiana has seen an improvement in the boys’ mindset. She says she is proud of the boys on her team because now they recognize a girl can also win.
“I don’t want boys to think like ‘we have more chance, we are smarter’ because girls can do that too.”
“You can show others what you can be”
For Daiana, the key to success is learning and growing. She deeply appreciates the support of her family, teachers, and teammates have given her because it has helped her grow up into a bigger person. “I am glad I can help other girls to play chess.”
She not only inspires them by example, but she is also the team leader. Assuming this role for her means to stay positive, be a bigger person, and always helping the other girls.
“They can talk to me, I can help and motivate them. If you lose, think about the lessons that you learned,” the team captain says.
“I want to be equal as the girls, I don’t want the attention. I don’t want to make them feel left out. Just because I started earlier doesn’t mean they can’t be at the same level as me,” she adds.
Daiana is not only motivated to inspire members of her team but also any other girl out there. She urges girls to try to change people’s perception by playing chess.
“Try it! It won’t hurt to try something new. You only live once, you can only do certain things every year, learning chess won’t hurt you and it can help you in the future. Just believe in yourself. If you like it, go for it.”
Daiana believes she can inspire others to believe in themselves.
If you want to help Daiana keep inspiring girls, consider supporting the #ChessQueens on their way to nationals click here to give.
This interview is part of the “I Can” series, developed by Esperanza to highlight the transformative stories of our Hunting Park community.
Interview by Dani Hobbs, redacted by Andrea Bolinaga.