Chuck McClung teaches chess at the Coronado Public Library and is a botanist. And, he grew up as the son of a professional wrestler. Staff photo by Isabel Cheesman.

Chuck McClung’s approach to life embodies the idea of embracing time. 

He has a passion for life with a multitude of hobbies and talents as a chess teacher and botanist. 

McClung, who teaches chess on the second Thursday of every month in the Winn Room at the Coronado Public Library, grew up in Rockford, Illinois where his father was a professional wrestler. 

Wrestling showed me you can be anything you want…You just have to be a character, and that’s how a lot of people are anyways.”

-Chuck McClung

“Wrestling showed me you can be anything you want,” he said. “You just have to be a character, and that’s how a lot of people are anyways.” 

How wrestling brought him out of his shell

Being the son of a pro wrestler brought him out of his shell and gave him confidence during his difficult childhood, he said. 

At 15,  his job was to get all of the gear the wrestlers would bring to the ring, which was at a local bar, and take it to the dressing room before all the patrons – often men who drank too much – grabbed it.

“I had to go get all of the stuff around the ring without people really noticing me, go back to the locker room where they’re all sitting around playing cards and smoking cigarettes, and then go sit down as if nothing happened,” he said.  

Another job included sitting in the aisle in order to help the wrestlers get back to the ring after they got cut during the matches.

“I came in and I look back as he’s walking to the room,” McClung said, referring to a wrestler. “I can see the piece of tape on his fingers roll back, and he nicked his leg. So, his leg is bleeding and his shoulder is bleeding before he even gets in the ring.” 

Experiences like this gave him a confidence in life that he never had before, he said.

Developing a love of chess

Yet, before he was working at the ring, he developed an interest in chess when he was 6.

By the time he was 9, he learned to play and then started playing competitively in middle school. 

Since then, he has gotten more involved in the chess community. 

He holds the title of Category C World Champion on, which took him five years to attain, he said.

Reflection of a personality

McClung believes that chess is not only a game, but it is a mirror into your psyche, and the way people play chess is a reflection of their personality. 

“I tend to play a more reserved type of chess,” he said. “I tend to hold, sit back and watch, and wait for them to make a move and then pounce.”

McClung’s passions extend beyond the chessboard. 

Talking about gardening becomes a book

He has a Master’s Degree in Botany from Washington State University.

In 2019, he published: How Orchids Rebloom, a helpful guide about how to care for orchids. 

McClung said that his favorite part of gardening is talking about gardening, so most of his book was written by speaking into his phone using the dictation feature. 

Like his philosophy with chess, he believes that how you care for your plants is a reflection of how you care for yourself. 

In this way, it’s like wrestling because it reflects peoples’ personalities. 

Caring for plants

He said he finds joy in showing people what is wrong with their plants and helping them learn to care for them. 

“It’s a matter of being with the plant, but not scrutinizing or studying it like a scientist,” McClung said.  

It was during the seven-year journey of writing his first book that the need for occasional breaks led him to begin drawing mazes. 

As a child, he said he studied and solved mazes, and in second grade, he started creating his own.

Silly, crazy mazes

In 2020, he published Chuck’s Crazy Mazes. 

I never try to make them hard. I just try to make them silly.”

-Chuck McClung on his mazes book.

“I never try to make them hard. I just try to make them silly,” he said. 

McClung said his outlook on life is looking at it “as a hobby.”

“I do a lot of things. It’s not like I’m a workaholic, but I have always just been interested in life,” he said.

How Orchids Rebloom is available at or at both Walter Andersen Nursery locations (San Diego and Poway). To purchase a copy of Chuck’s Crazy Mazes, visit

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