Is it too late now?

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Is it too late now?

Postby nightreign » Fri Nov 27, 2015 9:06 am

Here's my story:
This summer, I posted here asking how hard it would be to start a team at my high school and got some good advice. I sent emails to several teachers asking if they'd be interested in coaching. One teacher responded right away and said it was a good idea, but he was too busy. Another teacher told me later that I could use her room, but she wouldn't want to actually coach a team. The other teachers never responded. The first week of school, I got involved with a production of Les Miserables that most of the students who had expressed interest over the summer were also involved in. The director said that due to the nature of the production, we weren't allowed to do any other extracurriculars if they interfered with rehearsals, so I decided to hold off on starting a team, maybe until next year. Les Mis just recently ended, and I'm in that state of post-musical depression where I'm wondering what I should do with my life now. A few people online suggested I should return to trying to start up a quizbowl team.

Here are my issues:
1. Is it too late now to start a team? It's already November and likely by the time I got it going, it would already be January. Would it be better to just wait until next year?
2. My school is small, with maybe 300-400 kids in the entire high school. Our guidance counselor is overworked and it's almost impossible to get anything done through her (and if you do, it takes a long time). The teachers care about the students, but they're rarely there before or after school, and most of them didn't even respond to my original email where I asked for coaches. We have very little funding and our only real, permanent clubs are theatre, speech & debate, environmental club, and the National Honor Society. We don't even have sports. I'm worried that those things will make it hard to find support for a team at the administrative level and actually get one going. (EDIT: there are two teachers who run a math team for freshmen and sophomores. I feel like, of all the teachers at the school, they would be the most likely to say yes to something like this. The issue is that the math team does not run very many practices; last year we had a tryout and two practices before the competition, and I'm not sure they'd be willing to put in the time.)
3. I get the feeling that if I do start up a team, I'll just graduate in a year and a half and the team will dissolve because I'm the only one who cares enough to keep it going, and I'm not sure if it's worth it to start up a team for the express reason of enabling me to play quizbowl, especially since I'm already a junior.

I decided to ask for help from people who actually know the system. Should I try to start up a team this year, wait until next year and try to get one going at the beginning of the year, or just abandon the idea entirely and learn trivia on my own?
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Re: Is it too late now?

Postby Deviant Insider » Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:22 pm

Start now.
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Re: Is it too late now?

Postby cchiego » Fri Nov 27, 2015 2:44 pm

If you don't try to start a team, there's basically a 0 percent chance there will be a lasting quizbowl team at your school. If you do try, there's at least a decent chance that something gets started and lasts. Plus, you get to play quizbowl along the way. Follow Reinstein's advice and just do it, starting now.

Note that while it may be hard to get now, the best way to get institutional support and interest from teachers and admins in the future is to start the team and start going to tournaments. Winning some matches will help get them and other students to take quizbowl more seriously, especially if you work to make sure you get recognition. Right now quizbowl is just the name of some activity among many to them; if you can grab a few trophies at local tournaments and wins against cross-town rivals, they'll probably start to see it as something more.
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Re: Is it too late now?

Postby Cheynem » Fri Nov 27, 2015 3:10 pm

If this is Grand Rapids City High in Michigan, they had a quizbowl team, a fairly successful one, when I was in high school in the early 2000's, so it definitely can support a team and a successful one.
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Re: Is it too late now?

Postby nightreign » Fri Nov 27, 2015 6:04 pm

Cheynem wrote:If this is Grand Rapids City High in Michigan, they had a quizbowl team, a fairly successful one, when I was in high school in the early 2000's, so it definitely can support a team and a successful one.


Yep, that's the one! According to what I've heard, most of the extracurricular activities in our school district got dissolved a few years ago (yay for having no funding!), so that's probably when the team got dissolved. From what I've been able to dig up, the teacher that used to coach isn't still there, unfortunately. This does give me some hope, though.
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Re: Is it too late now?

Postby acrosby1861 » Sat Nov 28, 2015 12:37 am

nightreign wrote:3. I get the feeling that if I do start up a team, I'll just graduate in a year and a half and the team will dissolve because I'm the only one who cares enough to keep it going, and I'm not sure if it's worth it to start up a team for the express reason of enabling me to play quizbowl, especially since I'm already a junior.

I decided to ask for help from people who actually know the system. Should I try to start up a team this year, wait until next year and try to get one going at the beginning of the year, or just abandon the idea entirely and learn trivia on my own?


I agree with the people who have posted before me, but I'm going to add some stuff. Yes, it's worth starting a quizbowl team, and there might be people who will continue the team when you graduate. You never know unless you try. Get the word out as much as possible, recruit people, and if they like quizbowl enough to stay on the team, try to make sure that they stay after you graduate.

nightreign wrote:We have very little funding and our only real, permanent clubs are theatre, speech & debate, environmental club, and the National Honor Society. We don't even have sports. I'm worried that those things will make it hard to find support for a team at the administrative level and actually get one going.


Use the permanent clubs as starting points. There would be commonalities between the permanent clubs and quizbowl. Like how common quizbowl topics involve theatre and politics and environment and academic stuff.

cchiego wrote:Winning some matches will help get them and other students to take quizbowl more seriously, especially if you work to make sure you get recognition. Right now quizbowl is just the name of some activity among many to them; if you can grab a few trophies at local tournaments and wins against cross-town rivals, they'll probably start to see it as something more.


Winning = more chances of getting recognized. Trophies and stats bring home more proof that your team knows what it's doing, that quizbowl is an actual thing. Also, winning will encourage people to join because winning is an incentive.
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Re: Is it too late now?

Postby dhumphreys17 » Sat Nov 28, 2015 10:06 pm

nightreign wrote:I sent emails to several teachers asking if they'd be interested in coaching. One teacher responded right away and said it was a good idea, but he was too busy. Another teacher told me later that I could use her room, but she wouldn't want to actually coach a team. The other teachers never responded.


I completely express my solidarity with you here. Our school's situation is a bit different; allow me to elaborate. Our head coach has been retired from teaching for five years but still coaches because she loves the sport. Our assistant coach just entered into retirement. Finding a replacement was high-priority for us, and although I took all the steps you listed, I got just about the same outcomes. One teacher was busy. Another one let us use her room but didn't have time to coach a team, and the others never got back to me.

I'll just say a few things:

1. Our school's MUCH smaller than yours (142 students grades 9-12) and we field two teams at most of the tournaments that let us do that. It took us time to get there, but that level of team development will come more quickly than you expect. EDIT: Let me clarify here; team development requires recruitment. Ask teachers which students they think would be good in certain subjects. Then nag those students. It's surprisingly effective. Especially when you stress that you WANT them on your team because not only you but others (perhaps more objective than yourself) have said they'd be good at the wonderful, beautiful thing that is quizbowl.

2. A lot of things can be done by a concerned student taking initiative. I've taken on most of the responsibilities of an assistant coach over these past few months, and although your situation is worse (you don't even have a semi-involved head coach, let alone any at all), you're still capable of doing a lot.

3. As Chris Chiego so eloquently put it:

cchiego wrote:Winning some matches will help get [administration, teachers,] and other students to take quizbowl more seriously, especially if you work to make sure you get recognition. Right now quizbowl is just the name of some activity among many to them; if you can grab a few trophies at local tournaments and wins against cross-town rivals, they'll probably start to see it as something more.


This holds true with our program. Our administration has been much more willing to support our team (especially in terms of finances) ever since (a) we qualified for HSNCT last year, (b) we qualified for HSNCT and PACE this year, and (c) we started attending invitationals playing close games against good teams (Troy, UAIS, etc.)

4. As others have said in other locations (I'll just reiterate), as long as your team has administrative support, your coach doesn't necessarily need to be faculty. It certainly strains things (as in our case), but a parent that's willing to be a chaperone counts as a "coach" on paper. This will certainly increase your workload, but if you have a successful team, it's more than worth it.

I wish you the best of luck and hope to see City High School (maybe in January at MSU?) at other invitationals this year. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
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