Not all angels have wings. Holy Cross Elementary's chess team has been reminded of this.

Not all angels have wings. Holy Cross Elementary’s chess team has been reminded of this.

Comedian Joe Matarese, of “America’s Got Talent” fame, will bless the Holy Cross Crusaders Chess Team with a benefit show at the Knights of Columbus Council Hall in Camden on May 13. There will be a silent auction.

A portion of the ticket sales will be shared with the chess team, whose members are ages 6 to 14. The club will use the funds on travel to a national tournament in Tennessee next year.

Chiagozie Umobi, a sixth-grader, is thankful for the comedy show.

“It’ll help get our chess club’s name out,” the Magnolia resident said. “I think it’s a really good thing for the comedian that’s helping us out.”

Ron Poliquin, chess team coach, said it’s a big deal landing Matarese.

“We’re pretty lucky to have a nationally-known comedian, someone who’s been on ‘David Letterman’ and ‘America’s Got Talent,’” the Dover resident said. “He’s such a great talent and has been everywhere and done so much.”

Victorious crusaders

The Holy Cross Crusaders regularly rank high in national, regional and statewide chess tournaments, garnering many trophies.

Cindy Lu, a fifth-grader, said teamwork has been key to success.

“We help each other a lot,” she said. “Sometimes when we don’t understand tactics or other methods, our teammates tell us and help us, so do our coaches.”

Sixth-grader Mark Arranguez enjoys chess because it’s strategic.

“Since it’s a mental game, it really helps me to think quickly, especially here at school,” the Camden resident said. “In some classes we have to do strategic thinking and this comes in handy.”

Poliquin said a big myth is most kids are already brainy when they pick up the game.

“There’s this perception that smart kids play chess. But the reality of it is that kids get smarter when they play chess,” the Dover resident said.

“It’s something you can do at a young age and expand your mind and improve your grades and memorization. There are a number of studies out there that say chess makes kids smarter.”

‘It’s a slam dunk’

The comedy-show benefit started from Poliquin’s relationship with Matarese. Over a year ago, he became a follower of the therapeutic podcast “Fixing Joe,” which has blossomed into a new season titled “Fixed Joe.”

On “Fixing Joe,” Matarese’s listeners, guests and friends offered solutions to whatever problem he was dealing with in a given week.

“One of the fans that was calling in a lot was the guy Ron Poliquin, who’s the coach of the chess team,” Matarese said. “We’re friends now. I talk to him all the time.”

Recently the comedian began giving his fans entertainment advice through his new project, Outside the Box. At, he offers fans a list of ideas on how they can produce their own Matarese comedy show in their respective cities.

Poliquin came up with the idea to have a benefit show for the chess club.

“When it’s a fundraiser, I always say it’s a slam dunk,” Matarese said. “I help them raise some money and at the same time, I make money. It’s a great feeling.”

Matarese, from New Jersey, is a veteran comedian of 20-plus years. He’s appeared on talk shows including “The Howard Stern Show” and “The Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” He recorded a half-hour special with Comedy Central.

Matarese delivers autobiographical humor. He highlights his struggles as a husband with two kids trying to make his own dreams come true.

“His brand of humor is perfect for parents raising young kids,” Poliquin said.


WHEN 8 p.m., May 13

WHERE Knights of Columbus Council Hall, 219 Vepco Blvd., Camden

MORE INFO or call 229-2430