New quizbowl team from History Bowl

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Knickerbocker glory
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New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:55 pm

Hey, I'm Bruce, from Saratoga High School. I would like to start an actual quizbowl team in our school. We have, in the past, gone sporadically to quizbowl tournaments, but we have mainly gone to History Bowl tournaments. Our team has achieved a great deal of success in History Bowl, getting 2nd place in the nation last year. However, I have attempted to get them to play more all-subject quizbowl with mixed results. Many members of the team are not enthusiastic about quizbowl, because they don't like other subjects or something else. However, I'm convinced that doing quizbowl will also help our History Bowl team, as History Bowl's canon doesn't have 100% history in the purest sense.

So one problem I have is how to get the rest of my team excited about all-subject quizbowl. I definitely would like to play more quizbowl next year, as the tournaments I have gone to (BELLOCO and NASAT) have been both fun and enlightening for me. However, I wouldn't want to go to a tournament alone or drag along a team reluctant to compete. I also wonder how to smoothly transition into quizbowl from History Bowl. I know almost all of the high-ranking History Bowl teams are also high level quizbowl teams. I'd assume that the transition from quizbowl to History Bowl is easier than the other way around, as we have to learn all the quizbowl canon. And that leads to my second concern: how do I balance history and non-history in team practices? Because if I read regular difficulty quizbowl packets, the history will be much too easy for my team and not much use, but if I read a higher-level packet, the non-history will be too difficult. I would like for our team to both keep improving both in History Bowl and in quizbowl, but it doesn't seem easy to establish a balance between the two.

Finally, a question about tryouts. We hold tryouts for History Bowl, but I am afraid that we might lose talent because we cut them. Also, we have had behavioral and attendance issues with people we accepted from tryouts. I am thinking of having open practices, but that would be impractical since we will have 50, 60, or more people want to join our team. In the end, I would like to see determined, persistent people who are willing to improve and put time in join our team, but it's hard to find character in tryouts.

I welcome your advice.
Bruce Lou
Saratoga '15 | California '18
2018 COLLEGE champion

Lo, Marathon Ham!
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by Lo, Marathon Ham! » Tue Jul 01, 2014 7:28 pm

Typically at our school the members between the two activities are somewhat different. I would advise keeping the activities semi-separate with quiz bowl having its own "tryouts". Our administration for the two activities is the same, but the process of joining each team is different and the qualities we search for are different based on what team a person is trying out for (quite obviously).
Mohan Malhotra
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:01 am

GOODCOMPANY88 wrote:Finally, a question about tryouts. We hold tryouts for History Bowl, but I am afraid that we might lose talent because we cut them. Also, we have had behavioral and attendance issues with people we accepted from tryouts. I am thinking of having open practices, but that would be impractical since we will have 50, 60, or more people want to join our team. In the end, I would like to see determined, persistent people who are willing to improve and put time in join our team, but it's hard to find character in tryouts.
In my experience, you might see 50-60 people show up to your first practice, but that number will drop off significantly after the first week or two. Plus, it's encouraged to bring several teams to a tournament.
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:15 am

1) I'm excited to see more Bruces in quizbowl. This is a fantastic development.

2) Sounds like you need to seek out and recruit people who like literature, science, etc. the way that you and your current teammates like history. Then you don't need to worry about "transitioning" your team.

3) It's OK if the history people on your team don't like other subjects. High level quizbowl is full of people who are specialists at one or two subjects and aren't too much of a threat on other areas. They contribute positively to many championship teams. There are certainly worse things than history to be a specialist about, given that up to 25% of the questions in a packet will be about history, with additional questions about religion, mythology, and geography which are, IMO, easy for history people to pick up.
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by heterodyne » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:30 am

Ok, so we had a bit of this problem my freshman year with basically everyone liking history (although obviously we were not as good or as accomplished as Saratoga). Basically, what we did was a combination of finding people who would be motivated to learn other stuff who were already on the team and actively seeking out people in the school who seemed like they would be good for the other subjects. If you open up practices without tryouts, as has been said above, most of those people will drop off soon. To solve the problem of specialization and how to practice, you can just mix and match until you can bring your skill in other subjects up to par with your skill in history or even close.
Alston [Montgomery] Boyd
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:10 am

Our team for the past three years were all big on history and when we first got involved in quiz bowl that has one subject we as a team really had down. We weren't terrible at other subjects and we all had some background in our own subjects but we weren't by any means dominant as a team, so we improved as a team by specializing and learning more about our favorite non-history subjects. The way it played out, we had a guy who was a naturally strong fine arts player thanks to his conservatory and playing experience, someone who liked books, a guy who was really big on current events and Abrahamic religions before he even picked up a buzzer (boy, did that help us win multiple tournaments, I tale you whut), and a guy who liked European art. (N.B. I reference the guy who liked European art because he would've been our "fifth man" for regular quiz bowl but we could use better as our fourth for History Bowl than our science player, since we're talking in part about team composition. For quiz bowl, we put our science player before the Euro art guy).

I reference that namely because it is possible to shape a bunch of history buffs into a successful quiz bowl team. It may be hard, and in your case it may not be the better option as opposed to seeking out specialists, but I know from our experience we didn't have many choices (my mind is still blown you get 50 to 60 people showing up to these tryouts... annually we got at most 10) and we obviously turned out pretty well. Since we already had a bunch of matches under our belt as a team for regular quiz bowl, the transition to History Bowl was very smooth.

Seeking out specialists for a new quiz bowl team in your case I imagine wouldn't be too difficult since you come from a large school, on the other hand you likely do not know everyone in your school. My best advice would be to first seek a few candidates from among your friends: I'm certain you have a friend who reads the Economist and/or posts political news on his/her Facebook (would be a person naturally inclined to be good at current events/geography, although this might be best for NAQT tournaments). You probably have a friend who is well-read, and you may know someone who has experience doing Science Olympiad or TEAMS. You may also know someone who is big in arts. If you don't have a friend who matches one of those descriptions, I'm sure you advertise an opening on a "academically competitive" team for a literature guru to the creative writing club (or book club) or that you're looking for a science guy to the members of science club.

Regarding packets - I mean, you could always just splice the packets and compose a couple master practice packets of varying difficulties to the strengths and weaknesses you see in people's categories.
Thomas Moore
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by cchiego » Thu Jul 03, 2014 2:43 pm

GOODCOMPANY88 wrote:And that leads to my second concern: how do I balance history and non-history in team practices? Because if I read regular difficulty quizbowl packets, the history will be much too easy for my team and not much use, but if I read a higher-level packet, the non-history will be too difficult. I would like for our team to both keep improving both in History Bowl and in quizbowl, but it doesn't seem easy to establish a balance between the two.
Try separate practices for History Bowl and Quiz Bowl. Sure, the quiz bowl ones might be smaller at first, but it's better to have a clear aim for a practice rather than "people show up and debate which packet to use that day." Note too that History Bowl is a bit more seasonal than quizbowl--you can increase the number of History Bowl practices in advance of local NHBB tournaments and to help prep for nationals while practicing quizbowl in general throughout the year. It's fine if the history in a regular QB practice seems too "easy"--you can probably still learn a few clues and it's good prep for a regular quizbowl tournament where the history questions will be of that level.
GOODCOMPANY88 wrote:Finally, a question about tryouts. We hold tryouts for History Bowl, but I am afraid that we might lose talent because we cut them. Also, we have had behavioral and attendance issues with people we accepted from tryouts. I am thinking of having open practices, but that would be impractical since we will have 50, 60, or more people want to join our team. In the end, I would like to see determined, persistent people who are willing to improve and put time in join our team, but it's hard to find character in tryouts.
Do you have a dedicated coach for the team? This is where a good coach can be quite useful in terms of managing the players and holding them accountable for behavior or attendance issues. A coach who's a teacher can also help work with other teachers to identify top students in other subject areas. You may also need one to help manage any institutional requirements for travel, fundraising, etc.

Tryouts aren't really necessary. As other replies have noted, there's natural attrition in quizbowl--you say 50-60 people show up for tryouts, but even a few months later I bet you'd be down to 20 or so, thus naturally showing who's more dedicated. You can also do multiple rooms at practice, with one focusing on easier questions for novices and another on harder questions for more advanced players. 20 people is not unheard of for a big HS' team and a bigger overall team can be useful in a number of ways, such as having more trained staff for hosting tournaments (i.e. fundraising) and having "farm teams" for younger players to improve and gain experience. It can also help generate more institutional support for your team (admins often prefer activities that involve more students) and help create a culture of excellence that attracts good potential players in the future.
Chris C.
UGA '09, UCSD '12, UPenn '19
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by Jason Cheng » Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:33 pm

Arcadia Quiz Bowl and Arcadia History Bowl are two completely separate organizations--Corry and a few friends founded Arcadia History Bowl in our junior year, and he was captain and co-captain of that and Quiz Bowl respectively, but we kept the two teams pretty separate (aside from the times Boyang and I played as ringers).

Having two separate organizations made it so we had lots of players in Quiz Bowl who were also in HB and vice versa, but also didn't necessarily force players to play for the other team. I'd say this system is worth thinking about as a solution to your dilemma.
Jason Cheng
Arcadia High School 2013
UCSD 2017
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Maury Island incident
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Re: New quizbowl team from History Bowl

Post by Maury Island incident » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:54 pm

The Lexington program has always been one "History Bowl and Quiz Bowl Team". However, we have one History Bowl and one quizbowl practice per week, and people come to whichever they want to, until NHBB Nationals, when the History Bowl practice became another quizbowl practice leading up to quizbowl nationals. (We didn't attend NHBB Nationals this year because two members of our A Team had prior conflicts). The memberships were initially more separate, but had a lot of overlap, and we had separate captains for both organizations. This past year, more people have transitioned from just History Bowl to both History Bowl and quizbowl, and we currently have almost 100% overlap. People who were initially exclusively history players learned other parts of the canon and developed into good quizbowlers as the year went on, and we developed into a decent quizbowl team. I'd say that would happen with Saratoga, too, if people choose other subjects to study and study them with dedication.
Colin Cantwell
Lexington '17
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