HIGHWOOD — Not a lot goes on in the small community Highwood, according to resident Ashton Pasha. Despite that, the seventh-grade student always finds ways to stay busy - and her most recent activities have her packing a suitcase for next month.
Ashton is a state champion chess player and qualified for the national K-8 chess tournament at the annual U. S. Open Chess Championship in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
“I did not win the overall tournament so when they said I qualified it was pretty shocking to me,” Ashton said.
Not only did she qualify for nationals, but she did so after playing just one tournament. That state tourney in Helena a few weeks ago was her first ever, and she left quite the impression on the field and her family.
On top of that she juggled several sports in the same time frame, competing in track events that same week.
Her mother Andrea was equally shocked when she got the email saying Ashton could play chess with the best next month: “Ashton is the hardest worker I’ve ever met. She’ll prioritize multiple things and just go for it. I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
The Pashas have a family chess board they have used for years, and Andrea said they all play chess as a family, but only recently did things start to heat up.
“I like playing with them and it usually goes pretty well,” Ashton said with a smirk.
If you have Netflix, you probably know about the movie "The Queen’s Gambit" and how it stormed the Internet when it was released. It also gave Ashton some inspiration in her chess game as well: “It was cool to see because she chased her dream,” Ashton added.
She will be a long way from home come July, but she will have her family right there with her chasing her dream.
If you would like to help with Ashton's travel expenses, click here.