July 15 to 24: Recruiting team members

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July 15 to 24: Recruiting team members

Post by First Chairman » Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:00 pm

The Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence and the moderators of the Quizbowl Forum announce a new special discussion on recruiting new team members. This special discussion will go from July 15 to July 24. Please encourage other students, coaches, and other interested individuals involved in both high school and college quiz bowl to register with the website and participate in this discussion.

Questions that I hope this discussion will address:
How to form a team (new team) in high school and in college?
How to balance the needs of new members versus returning members?
What are the difficulties recruiting college players who have had experience in different quiz bowl formats?
How do we attract girls/women and underrepresented groups to join the team?

There will be special rules and moderation for this discussion, to be explained later.

I am also interested in additional special discussion topics to be held once every month. If you have any suggestions, please email me.

Please invite interested students, teachers, or others to participate.
Last edited by First Chairman on Mon Sep 04, 2006 9:59 am, edited 13 times in total.

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Updated dates

Post by First Chairman » Tue Jul 11, 2006 1:07 pm

Due to the fact I have a previously scheduled weekend planned away from my computer, I have extended the dates of the discussion from the 15th to the 24th.
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Pre-discussion questions

Post by First Chairman » Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:35 am

I am hoping that I'll have my laptop back to start the discussion and facilitate it. Start drafting your answers to post on the 15th (or maybe sooner).

Basically, the general pre-discussion questions to focus on. Please respond to the following 3 questions and list any additional ones you may have. If there are other questions you would like to prompt to everyone, please email them to me before Friday 6pm ET so they can be added onto this list.

1) For historically successful programs, how do you publicize your practices at school? For high school programs, what has been the most successful way to get new members (for example: general public announcements, word of mouth among students, references from teachers or other school officials, recruiting solely among the "honors" programs)? For college programs, what type of publicity has worked best for you?

2) Retention: how many students do you keep after 1 month? How do you avoid attrition and maintain retention?

3) Diversity: do you have any specific strategy, a best practice, or a general team philosophy that welcomes girls/women and others from non-Caucasian or non-Asian demographic backgrounds? What works best in this case?

4) High school teams: what is the role of parents and other teachers in facilitating recruitment and retention?

5) What are the qualities that you see in students who stay in quiz bowl? I'd like to compare the answers between high school and college team recruitment.
Last edited by First Chairman on Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Discussion is open

Post by First Chairman » Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:47 pm

I still haven't gotten my computer back, so... the discussion is open.

Posters please answer the questions we have already posted by number. If you have additional questions, please add sequentially to the questions already listed (so the next question from this post is 6).
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Post by DrakeRQB » Fri Jul 14, 2006 1:24 pm

1) We've been recruiting for the past two years by getting references from teachers and then sending letters to those students inviting them to attend an interest meeting. We also send out general announcements about that meeting, but we specifically target the students that were referred to us by the faculty.

2) I feel the key to our retention of new team members has been to work with them away from the veterans, so they do not feel overwhelmed.

4) As I stated above, teachers help us recruit students and then encourage those students to participate.

5) Many of my students see their grades begin to improve, as they're learning material for Quiz Bowl in addition to studying for class. Some students who were very shy when they began will eventually become more outspoken and outgoing.
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Post by dtaylor4 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 2:17 pm

1) At my old HS, our coach would mention it during his freshmen honors classes, but other than that, we don't publicize practice. To recruit, we help staff the local middle school league matches/tournaments, where we get an idea of who might be good. We sometimes get references from teachers, but we don't actively seek them out.

2) We used our JV league triangulars/tournament to hold "tryouts". We had about 10 freshmen, so they played in essence 4 matches and the tournament, and based on those numbers as well as observations during practice, our coach took those who had proven themselves and let them join the team.

3) Diversity wasn't even mentioned. We took who we thought were the best players. The only time gender was brought up was when we were planning overnighters.

4) As mentioned above, sometimes teachers come to us with recommendations. Parents usually offered to drive a few of the players to tournaments, and in one case one parent joined us on several overnights.

5) I'll echo what Drake said. They tend to have higher grades as they learn stuff for class before it comes up in class.

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OPEN:: July 15-24: Recruiting team members

Post by Encyclopedia Brown » Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:43 pm

At my old HS, we had several practices that are still in use, which were implemented when the top eight players were about to graduate.

1. We recruited by having our two coaches ask other teachers to recommend potential players from various classes (both Honors and college prep), and these people were invited to a social event where then-current team members answered questions and invited recruits to play a mock game. Also, friends of the team were invited. In fact, the process of this recruit drive, as well as hand-recruiting by team members, gave Freeman a new group of regulars after the 2003-2005 core graduated.

2. Usually, the first month (when the TV team has yet to be selected) has a pretty good group of regulars and newcomers, several of whom leave before the first circuit tournament. So, after one month, there are usually between 8-10 regulars, with the occasional newcomer later on in the year.

3. To concur with DaGeneral, diversity has never really been an issue. However, the current leadership has expressed interest in seeing more girls on the team.

4. As is appearing as a consensus, other teachers are sometimes asked to give recommendations for potentially good younger players (mainly freshmen and sophomores). As for parents, the parents of one player from my era provided a great deal to the team (including new uniforms and team transportation), and provided great support to the players and coaches. I will say that they likely kept several players on the team until the 2005 graduation.

5. I must also agree with Drake on that one.
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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by Chris Frankel » Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:39 am

E.T. Chuck wrote: 3) Diversity: do you have any specific strategy, a best practice, or a general team philosophy that welcomes girls/women and others from non-Caucasian or non-Asian demographic backgrounds? What works best in this case?
Why should this be an issue at all? Why not just concentrate our efforts into making the game as enjoyable and enriching as possible for the kids who do want to play and helping them get the most of it, regardless of what demographic they fit? Treating the game as some sort of social welfare experiment only takes attention from away from the more important priority of encouraging the players who do show up and are interested in competing.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."

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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by The Time Keeper » Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:43 am

Chris Frankel wrote:
E.T. Chuck wrote: 3) Diversity: do you have any specific strategy, a best practice, or a general team philosophy that welcomes girls/women and others from non-Caucasian or non-Asian demographic backgrounds? What works best in this case?
Why should this be an issue at all? Why not just concentrate our efforts into making the game as enjoyable and enriching as possible for the kids who do want to play and helping them get the most of it, regardless of what demographic they fit? Treating the game as some sort of social welfare experiment only takes attention from away from the more important priority of encouraging the players who do show up and are interested in competing.
Indeed. I think a program that produces the best team(s) possible should be much more important than a team that goes of out its way to cover every color of the rainbow. Who cares if a team has four men, or four women, or four whites, four asians, or four blacks, as long as that's the best team your school can produce?

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Post by vig180 » Sat Jul 15, 2006 3:58 am

CBI certainly cares about diversity...see their take on it http://www.collegebowl.com/campus/recruit.asp .

Back on the main thread (I'll just limit this to my HS experience),

1. Practices/tryouts were a big event. Word about our local academic competition was widespread and many parents made their kids try out for it. We usually had 30-40 people show up for a total of 12 slots. Perhaps the biggest incentive was massive financial rewards- whoever won the local TV tournament got $7,500 per player in scholarships.

2. Despite the fact our coach was rather grating and overzealous, we only had one person ever quit and that was at the end of the year.

4. Parents stayed far away from the team; they only came to tournaments every now and then.

5. Nobody really wanted to go to practices, it was more or less the fear of falling out of the coaches' favor and not getting the $$ that made people come. When I tried to rouse interest in attending other tournaments, the lack of money made nobody really care. Consequently, only one of my former HS teammates through 3 years of playing has even mentioned an interest in playing at the college level.

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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by First Chairman » Sat Jul 15, 2006 1:16 pm

3) Diversity:

Thank you for bringing that website up; I wasn't aware of it, but it does not surprise me. The issue of diversity is an especially significant one in education because the presence of role models is an important one in promoting greater diversity. By many measures, underrepresented minorities are not given messages that they are smart enough to tackle higher educational goals (depending on how you measure it). Fewer underrepresented minorities go attend 4-year universities as undergraduates, graduate, remain in graduate or professional school, or get graduate degrees. Medicine is particularly concerned that there are so few minorites (outside of the Asian population) that have entered the medical profession.

To that end, my concern (and those of CBI/ACUI) is that people are getting implicit messages that "I can't play qb because I'm not smart enough" due to societal pressures that people who are not Caucasian or Asian cannot be "smart enough" to play qb. There are a number of psychological studies that describe how even mentioning a demographic hint to a population of students can change the outcome of testing for that group. (Heck, there are even studies that show how white students are threatened in math/science classes or competitions by the presence of Asians. I wish I had citations.)

So I'm wondering what has to be done to further welcome smart people from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in qb. Why have we not been able to identify these students or retain them? Why can we not integrate the HBCU/Honda teams with the ACF/NAQT circuit? These are very interesting questions that are a bit larger than just the game but are important to our game nevertheless.

I'm not interested in quotas. But it is interesting that one can see the leak in the diversity pipeline in the National Merit Semifinalist rolls, in SAT scores, in so many things in high school that a program like qb at a high school (or college) reflects that trend. Certainly college qb has not yet come close to representing the over 50% of women who do graduate with a bachelor's degree in the US.

So why don't more girls/women play qb? Would these reasons also hold to why more people from underrepresented backgrounds not want to play?
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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Jul 15, 2006 3:59 pm

Dolemite wrote:Who cares if a team has four men, or four women, or four whites, four asians, or four blacks, as long as that's the best team your school can produce?
The issue is this (I think): if there's something about quizbowl that "scares away" members of certain demographic groups, then many schools are not fielding the best team that they can produce, because there's some player out there who's not on it because of gender or something.

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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by The Time Keeper » Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:14 pm

Bruce wrote:
Dolemite wrote:Who cares if a team has four men, or four women, or four whites, four asians, or four blacks, as long as that's the best team your school can produce?
The issue is this (I think): if there's something about quizbowl that "scares away" members of certain demographic groups, then many schools are not fielding the best team that they can produce, because there's some player out there who's not on it because of gender or something.
Fair enough. I just don't get the "I shouldn't be doing this because my (race/gender/whatever) doesn't do this kind of stuff" mentality that these hypothetical people have. I suppose it is out there though, unfortunately.

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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by AKKOLADE » Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:28 pm

Dolemite wrote:Fair enough. I just don't get the "I shouldn't be doing this because my (race/gender/whatever) doesn't do this kind of stuff" mentality that these hypothetical people have. I suppose it is out there though, unfortunately.
True, but I think more of an issue that warrants discussion is if there are any practices that do scare away said minority members. I don't believe there are, but that's what's being asked.

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Post by First Chairman » Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:40 pm

Well, just as importantly, if someone walks into practice and sees no one who looks "like them," is that a disincentive to participate? If a girl walks into a team practice where there are only boys, is that intimidating?
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Retention

Post by First Chairman » Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:42 pm

2) Retention

Just wondering, do any of your veterans help "mentor" your new members during novice-only practices? Are there any specific things you do to build a sense of belonging with new members?
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Re: Retention

Post by DrakeRQB » Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:25 pm

E.T. Chuck wrote:2) Retention

Just wondering, do any of your veterans help "mentor" your new members during novice-only practices? Are there any specific things you do to build a sense of belonging with new members?
Our upperclassmen were really, really good to our newcomers in the spring practices - giving tips on gameplay, sharing study materials, etc. One newcomer was very smart but was painfully shy and afraid to buzz in. When we had practices together, the upperclassmen were always quick to give her a pat on the back or whatever when she buzzed in and got an answer, and that did wonders for her confidence.

And this doesn't have much to do with playing, but as far as a sense of belonging goes, at the end of the school year our incoming captain arranged a year-end social for the entire team at a local fun park, where players got to know each other through go-kart races and putt-putt (one of the freshmen whooped everyone, actually).
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:59 pm

E.T. Chuck wrote:Well, just as importantly, if someone walks into practice and sees no one who looks "like them," is that a disincentive to participate? If a girl walks into a team practice where there are only boys, is that intimidating?
Do you suggest we hire random women and minorities to sit in on practice in case a legitimately interested person walks in?

Perhaps you're right, minorities have inferiority complexes and think they're not smart enough for quizbowl. What should we do about that, though? Reassure them? Tell them they are, in fact, smart enough? That just comes off as extremely condescending. When one is recruiting for quizbowl one is already in danger of being rather condescending; we needn't exacerbate that by patronizing minorities. Incidentally, the reason we can't integrate the Honda Challenge teams into ACF/NAQT is because they're explicitly forbidden (or perhaps were, are they no longer?) from participating in any other form of quizbowl. But the "Honda Challenge is racist" thread is long gone.
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Post by wwellington » Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:04 pm

Somehow I doubt that a girl who is intimidated by boys would be any good at quizbowl.

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Post by David Riley » Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:53 pm

Re minorities in quiz bowl: A friend of mine has surmised that one of the reasons for a lack of such in quiz bowl is that there are few relevant questions: American and Western European-biased questions abound, but how often are there substantial questions about African-American, African, or other history and culture?

Re girls: yes, girls who are intimidated by boys will not join quiz bowl. In my thirteen years of coaching, all of the females I've had--who've stayed with it--are aggressive, dominant and will generally give the males a run for their money. And like it or not, a lot of females in our society are still socialized to the "boys don't like girls who are smarter than they are" attitude of the fifties, which does not promote females in quiz bowl, or any academic competition. What would Catherine McKinnon, Camille Paglia, and Peggy MacIntosh say?!?!?

Re recruitment in general: I've had my best luck by running junior high tournaments, giving talks to honors level classes, and open p.a. announcements==in other words, anything I can to recruit new players. I find freshmen will usually "cut" themselve, so I've always had a policy of no cuts, unless they obviously have no potential as quiz bowl players. For the ones who stick with it, I also make it clear that if they want to play often, then they need to accept that quiz bowl is a competition, not a club. It also helps if your school's culture praises and rewards academic achievement.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:31 pm

ekwartler wrote: Perhaps you're right, minorities have inferiority complexes and think they're not smart enough for quizbowl. What should we do about that, though? Reassure them?
Perhaps we can write the rest of the world a sternly-worded letter to stop whatever societal forces are causing such a mindset.

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Post by Deviant Insider » Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:58 pm

1) Word of mouth among students is the one system that has a high percentage of success. Unfortunately, it requires one or two students that are obsessed with quizbowl to work. In other words, we get high growth when there are a lot of kids and low growth when, like this year, we had few kids.

We also do activity fairs and morning announcements and occasionally talking to teachers, but it is frustrating because fewer than 5% of the names I get end up contributing to the team.

5) I may have misunderstood the original question. The way I read the question, it is essentially asking if there are certain qualities you can see in a student his/her first day of practice that gives you a clue as to whether or not that kid will still be around six months later. To that question, the most important feature is whether or not the student can answer questions. The second most important feature is whether the student sees some intrinsic value in learning what we are testing. In other words, if a kid thinks it is important to know who Rabelais was, then you've got a winner. Most kids don't think it's important, but I only want to get five kids from a class of 1000.

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Post by First Chairman » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:34 am

6) Classes and Extracurricular activities:
High School -- Briefly comment about policies on class performance and extracurricular activities for your students, and whether you impose higher expectations than the stated "official" policy.

College -- any comments about whether there are difficulties keeping students due to class schedules (science labs or evening classes) or other activity conflicts (like marching band, intramural sports, etc)?

7) Feeder system: High School -- Do you do any outreach to feeder middle schools in your area (other than Lee)?

8) Your first practice(s): What do you do for your first practices (within the first month)? Do you have food or other incentives?
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Post by DrakeRQB » Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:31 am

6. Our policy on this one is still in development. A lot of our kids are really involved in other stuff. We tell students when we're recruiting them that if they play more than one sport, the time constraint may be too much. Nevertheless, we have two kids that play sports in two seasons. Our school's athletic teams don't practice on Fridays, but we do. So, the kids will come after our Monday practice, get their study materials and things, then they come on Fridays. It's worked out well. This also takes care of most other activities at our school, since no club meets on Fridays.

As far as grades go, we require a B average and we've never had a student come close to dropping below that.
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Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Jul 16, 2006 12:56 pm

6. When I finished HS, my only senior teammate was valedictorian, and all four of my sophomore teammates had a perfect GPA. One plays both fall and spring sports, and we're the only activity that practices 4-5 days a week, so he comes often.

7. See my earlier post.

8. For the freshmen, we have an "initiation" for them. It's not hazing, we do nothing to them physically, it's just something that we do to get an early gauge on their potential.

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OPEN until July 24: Recruiting team members

Post by Encyclopedia Brown » Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:26 pm

6. At Freeman, athletics was always (and still is) somewhat of an issue. Our TV captain my senior year was SCA president, as well as captain of the track and cross-country teams. Therefore, he was somewhat rarely seen at the quizbowl practices. Another of the 2005 grads and I were on the newspaper, and would be a few minutes late on deadline day, which always overlapped a practice day.

The current team features two varsity football players and two varsity volleyball players, all of whom attend practice somewhat often in the fall (and full time after winter).

However, there is no official "policy" on limitations at my old school.

7. Much to my chagrin, there has been no outreach to the feeder middle school down the street. I believe that recruiting eighth-graders to form a solid JV would be a good asset. Not too many teams in Richmond (if any) do recruit in the middle schools, though. I have occasionally suggested to the current leadership to seek permission to recruit at the middle school.

8. Almost all practices at Freeman involve food, which is usually a potluck provided by players and coaches. It's a bit of quizbowl practice meets tamer frat party.

DaGeneral has a good idea about the hazing-free "initiation."
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Post by sabine01 » Sun Jul 16, 2006 6:26 pm

1) How GW got members back in 2005 - I plastered fliers all over the academic center. Kevan Duve, who eventually became the team's 2005-2006 president, posted notices on the Honors Program listserv. Rest has been word of mouth so far (or word of Facebook -- since there's a group).

In the early naughts, we've also had up a table/booth during the Colonial Inauguration (freshman orientation) activity fair. Unfortunately, we didn't have any active GWQT kids stay over the summer this year (and even if we had some stay back, we had missed the signup deadline)

Will need to ask the guys if they're interested in Student Org. bulletin board space in the library as well (it does help that I work there.)

Anyone on the Facebook group or our email list is generally aware of when our practices are. The officers are good at sending reminders. ;)

2) I think we kept a majority of the students who came over in September. A small handful have cycled in and out (other activities, foreign study).

3) Helps to have a gal as an advisor. And a few among the officership... ;) The gender balance is closer to 50/50 for the modern GWQT. A lot of these gals played in High School and continued on... (I'll have more observations on another reply) I think it may be encouraging to new members to have such a presence and balance...

4) N/A

5) A reason I personally stayed was thanks to the encouragement of the friends I made on-circuit -- in spite of a few negative personalities. That and a strong will and a stomach for teammate and competitor antics.

We'll see how many of the 05-06 team comes back this year... I probably might be able to give more insights re: this question this next year... A lot of the guys and gals I advise have played in HS and are a bit hooked onto the game, as I said.

6) Both at Furman and at GW: we've lost a few players due to frats/sororities.

Sometimes it's not an actual class scheduling conflict per se -- sometimes it's the workload of a class -- or a few -- which might preclude someone from coming to practice or going to a tourney. (Though yes... some people have come in and out thanks to evening labs.) Though for others QB practice *is* their study break. :-p

7) N/A

8) The first practice last year involved finding a room -- giving a crash course on the college game and reading 2 packets -- one academic (cc level) and 1 trash. We'll see what kind of ideas the current leadership has for this year. ;)
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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by Dan Greenstein » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:30 pm

1. Word of mouth is probably the best way to recruit people. In fact, that was how I was recruited in high school. Peer pressure can be used both positively and negatively. Teens are usually more likely to try something and even stick with it based on someone their own age rather than an authority figure like a teacher.

2. A first impression is important when trying to retain someone, and different people will be retained based on different things. Some people will be attracted by the questions, others by the social opportunities, others by the chance to do something fun and get out of town on Saturday. In addition, avoid mentioning some of the less desirable qualities of the activity. By all means, be truthful if asked, but some people would be turned off if at the first practice they are told they will need to write questions for practice, staff hosted tournaments, or participate in fundraisers. Keep it fun and games as long as possible.

One idea of how to retain people, aside from being friendly and encouraging, is to state your mission is to play as many people as possible. Obviously, this is not possible for many tournaments, due to logistics or a tournament insisting on one team per school, but a lot of tournaments will allow as many teams as a school wishes to bring. Giving as many students as possible a chance to play not only real playing experience and allows coaches to observe their charges in action, but is more appealing than requiring students to prove their worth in a try-out that may or may not be conducted in the format of a real, live tournament.

Along the lines of the previous paragraph, run separate practices for different levels of experience. Less experienced players need more acclimation to the game as well as an encouraging environment. Being thrown into the fire against the A team is not an encouraging environment for most people. At the other end, if the top players are sufficiently experienced, they do not need more than one practice a week to keep from becoming rusty. If they are required to practice three times a week for an activity they have been doing for three years, they might lose interest.

3. I find the diversity buzzword annoying and too political. For our purposes, to target and encourage certain people to participate based on the color of their skin or gender is condescending and goes again the meritocracy we desire quizbowl to be.

Rather than target specific groups of people, we should try to be as neutral as possible with regards to diversity. Be on your best behavior. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Avoid acting in offputting ways, including making unwanted advances toward the opposite gender and telling racist jokes. I think we are in consensus that we would rather someone quit because they do not like the activity than if they do not like the people in the activity.

Although I do not have a citation, the HBCUs that participate in the Honda tournament are no longer barred from playing in other tournaments. Still, the fact that CBI preaches diversity, yet practices segregation with regards to the HBCUs, provides us an example of something we do not want to do.

4. I would hope parents would encourage their children to participate and not say negative things like "Why would you want to participate in that?"

The best policy for parents is a golden mean. Show a little bit of interest in your children's quizbowl activites, ask a few questions, be supportive, perhaps offer to be a chaparone one or two times a year. However, do not insist on attending every tournament. Very few children are fond of parents living vicariously through them or being micro-managed.

6. Prioritize. Bad grades alone should not be the cause of suspending someone from the quizbowl team. However, if those bad grades are a result of neglecting studies in favor of something more enjoyable, such as quizbowl, then that student needs to prioritize.

Since most people would agree studies are more important than quizbowl, it should not absolutely be held against someone if a class prevents them from practicing regularly. Just because someone cannot practice half the time does not mean they should not be allowed to go to a tournament; that is a discouragement that will not help retention. However, practice attendance may be one factor used in deciding the composition of teams for that tournament. If someone is committed to and enjoys quizbowl, they will not let their overriding activity prevent them from playing quizbowl at least some of the time.

7. Feeder systems are an excellent way of recruiting and keeping students. The key is to provide opportunities for the middle schools. When I was in high school, my team ran two middle school tournaments each year. Many of the players from the teams at those tournaments ended up playing for my team at the high school level.

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Post by Tegan » Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:14 pm

I think how you approach this depends on where your program is.

When I took over three year ago, it was a mess: the entire varsity team left, and I was down to four juniors (with a fifth junior who joined on the spot). My emphasis was strictly on having fun at first: going out for nice lunches after going 1-4 or 2-3 ..... trying to find legit reasons to look up, etc.

The msot important thing we did was regular competition and practice schedule. Quiz bowl was a 2-3 day a week thing, every week. Last year, we went to one a week team practicies and 2-3 day a week subject specialty practices.

I did make sure that they earned varsity letters (frosh-soph numerals, sophomore letters) which was better than what the sports teams got.

As time has gone on, our numbers increased, and word of mouth has carried us a long way (we no longer have enough uniforms for our frosh-soph team). But we have also subtlely changed our approach with the team to emphasize improved play: getting players out to ACE, having players research and write questions, etc. As we have done that, the fortunes of hte team improved, and again, we get more and more players coming out for the team.

If you are taking over an extablished team, I wouldn't rock the boat until you have consulted with the players in terms of retention/what worked. Some of the least successful coaches I have ever known waslked into a gold mine of talent and started making changes, and from that day on lost the team. If the team is new and inexperienced, try making it fun first, and ramp up to competitiveness.

I think as Al Pacino said in "Scarface": "First you get the players, then you get the power, then you get the victories."


On the whole minority thing: My experience as a teacher also says that there are certain groups within a school that exert peer pressure to not appear to smart. In a school I used to teach at, it was, very sadly common for some minority students to drop out of higher level classes with high grades because their friends would pressure them to drop down. Terribly sad, but I saw it happen. I'm not sure how universal that is, so I won't claim it to be THEE reason.

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Post by Deviant Insider » Sun Jul 16, 2006 11:04 pm

I was an assistant my first year who did not get along with the head. We had a great team and got 2nd in the State. Because I was faculty and he was staff, I was able to essentially kick the head coach off the team and do it my way.

He spent hours every week begging kids to play Scholastic Bowl. That seemed like a huge mistake to me. My first year did not go that well because students who were used to being begged and receiving at least daily reminders no longer got that. I have no regrets--I got the team I want and I am very proud of the students I have had the past ten years.

Mr. Egan walked into a situation that was very different than mine.

6) It's standard in Illinois. Each week, teachers check off which students are getting Fs in their classes. Students have to be passing four majors or three majors and two minors to be able to play and practice. I have had students academically ineligible, and I've told them that they are welcome back when they fix their problem. I have no desire to be stricter than the official system. Grades are generally overemphasized, and I have nothing against C students.

7) I do not reach out to the junior highs. It is something that I have been meaning to do but have never gotten around to. Our state has an 8th grade state tournament, and New Trier's feeder schools probably would do very well if they wanted to. None of my feeder schools has a team.

8) We have food at pretty much every practice. We try to publicize our first few practices as much as possible, but we still have much of our team join during the course of the year. We'll take them any time.

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Post by orangecrayon » Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:23 am

1. My high school team put up fliers and did PA announcements for tryouts and would usually have a pretty decent tournout...enough for two rounds for freshmen and two rounds for everyone else.

At the college level, I'm part of a fairly new team. This fall will be the first year we haven't had an in at the campus newspaper, which helped us out as far as knowing who to talk to to make sure our ads ran the proper days, getting a story or two, etc. Between that and word of mouth (especially in the honors dormitory), that's how we got started and picked up almost all of our players.

2. As far as newbies go, it's varied a bit. The first three years saw small turnouts to our info sesssion at the beginning of the year, but 75-85 percent of the folks who showed up stayed with the team (and are still with us). Last year, we had 35 people came to our info session in August and only six were still coming back by Labor Day (of those six, four are still active).

3. Diversity's never really been taken into consideration on any team I've played for. In middle school and high school, the top criterium was how good you were. In college, it's first whether you're a jerk and secondly how good you are.

As a Native American woman, I never felt sought out to join just because of my gender or race. The only time I can think of it coming into play at all was a southern team at nationals my senior year popping off about how a school named for a black man (Booker T. Washington) didn't have any black players.

For what it's worth, three of OSU's four elected officers last year were women and our team was started by a woman...and now that I think about it, all of my coaches have been women, too.

6. In high school, academic bowl members were held to the same eligibility standards as athelets. If you had a D in one class, you were on probation (which really didn't mean squat); D in two or more classes or an F in one (or more) put you on academic suspension (out of matches).

As for extracurricular conflicts at the college level, we've always had several marching band members, which has forced some interesting lineups at fall tournaments, but nothing that's forced out a player.

8. We run early season practices like any other practice, just with fewer tangents. Part of one officer's elected duties is to be responsible for bringing Fruit Jammers to practice (long story), so we usually have snacks at most practices, regardless of when in the semester.

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More questions

Post by First Chairman » Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:21 am

More questions

9) Players and Managers: College more than high school
Do you look for any specific people with good organizational or managerial skills to be part of your team, even if they are not good qb players... or maybe in spite of them being good? How do you impart the importance of the logistics side of running a team to your members?

10) Assistants: High school more than college
How do you recruit for an assistant coach? Describe how your duties are shared if you have an assistant.
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Post by sabine01 » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:09 am

ekwartler wrote: Incidentally, the reason we can't integrate the Honda Challenge teams into ACF/NAQT is because they're explicitly forbidden (or perhaps were, are they no longer?) from participating in any other form of quizbowl. But the "Honda Challenge is racist" thread is long gone.
Eric -

That prohibition was lifted around the turn of the decade.... I've played a fairly good (but small) Morehouse team at UTC tournaments (they were quite friendly guys and quite well-received)...

Though I wonder what became of them? Perhaps they were faced with the same problems other circuit teams generally ran into as far as recruitment/retention was concerned?

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Post by David Riley » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:34 am

10) I'm fortunate to have one of my former players as my current assistant. Actually, he's more of a co-coach; while I take care of the administrative stuff, he coaches the frosh/soph team and the Varsity B team (when there is one); I coach the varsity and the fr/so B team.

He is totally involved in quiz bowl. In addition to coaching, he moderates tournaments and is an active member of our coaches' association. He also founded a new question-writinig company that is off and running. Again, I'm fortuante to have him.

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Post by rchschem » Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:09 am

I thought I might be able to add something meaningful to the discussions, but there really is nothing new under the sun. I've tried just about everything on this list to recruit and retain.

The most successful technique we have used to recruit is having current players bring in friends of theirs who they think would fit well with the program.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:45 am

David Riley wrote:Re minorities in quiz bowl: A friend of mine has surmised that one of the reasons for a lack of such in quiz bowl is that there are few relevant questions: American and Western European-biased questions abound, but how often are there substantial questions about African-American, African, or other history and culture?
Well... that depends on the quality of the tournament. A good tournament will ask about things in proportion to their merit (however one wants to define that,) which should mean that all those things are represented. A bad tournament may ask about anything at all. I know anything I'm running will always have substantial questions in all those areas.

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Post by cvdwightw » Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:49 pm

ImmaculateDeception wrote:I know anything I'm running will always have substantial questions in all those areas.
There is a large difference between UIUC tournaments and local league tournaments run by Beall wannabes, and then there's everything in between. Based on what I've read on this board, it seems that at the high school level many tournaments use almost exclusively American and European history and English language literature because that's what the students are required to take in high school classes.

1) At my high school the Academic Decathlon coach(es) and Quiz Bowl coach(es) were the same, and many players were recruited from one to the other activity (usually AD to QB, but sometimes the other way). I understand that parts of Santa Monica (and maybe Arcadia's) teams also do Science Bowl and Oceans Bowl and have managed to spread quiz bowl to other schools via those activities. In California the circuit is starting to expand as ex-players start getting teaching positions and founding teams, or as schools become disillusioned with the amount of effort they have to put into Academic Decathlon only to get destroyed by Marina or Laguna Hills or El Camino or... and they switch to or add quiz bowl. At the college level, we usually have one big activities fair at the beginning of the year, have about 40 people sign up to check out a practice, 10 of them think that we're the bowling team, and if we're lucky we'll get 2 or 3 to stay the whole year. This year was some sort of anomaly in that we managed to get something like 5 or 6 freshmen still with us at the end of the year.

2) At the high school level, it's a lot easier for people to stay if their friends are on it. I think just about everything else I've thought of has been discussed already.

6) We lost a freshman to late night lab and I don't know if she's still interested. We try to schedule practices for when people can make it, and then the people who are interested plan their schedules around practice. Dividing into novice and veteran practices has helped not only with retention but we've been able to avoid most possible schedule conflicts.

9) I've found that actually having the organizational or managerial skills helps little without experience; even though many of this year's freshmen were significantly more organized than Charles and I were, we ended up doing about 90% of the organizational stuff. Most of that was because they were new to the college level and had little experience with how to do the necessary things like organize practices and run tournaments. I would imagine that many new coaches would be facing similar problems.

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Re: Pre-discussion questions

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:59 pm

Hey,
Well... this grew into quite the polemic. I should say that anything in this is just how I see things from having helped run the Illinois Academic Buzzer Team for a few years and does not constitute an official statement... but if you weren't a dope, you already knew that (who would let me speak for them anyway?)
E.T. Chuck wrote:...how do you publicize your practices at school? ...what type of publicity has worked best for you?
We usually rely on grabbing people at Illinois' activities day(s) (there's always one; sometimes, there are two) and seeking out anyone whom we might suspect is good (from seeing them play in high school or whatever other means) and whom we know is coming to Illinois. It is hoped that our increasing involvement in the state high school circuit will help with this. I know that I didn't think this activity existed as a college freshman, for example.
E.T. Chuck wrote:...how many students do you keep after 1 month? How do you avoid attrition and maintain retention?
We're usually happy with 4-8 and that's usually what we'll get (this has been trending upward lately, though, so maybe more this year.) Our initial practices are huge (there were perhaps 100 people my freshman year,) but there's pretty much no way to keep the majority of the people at them from quitting one-and-done and, frankly, I have no problem with that. If people aren't going to have fun playing the game, their time is better spent somewhere else (sometimes this is true even if they are having fun; I'll freely admit I spent too much time on the game my first two years) and, one way or another, a lot of people aren't going to be happy playing the game. Quizbowl has a lot of offer, but so too do other things and, just as with any big university, there are literally thousands of activities to be had at Illinois. If you're not doing something that's an absolute blast to you, you haven't looked hard enough.
As for how we keep people, we make things fun without dumbing them down so that people know what to expect and don't quit after going 0-for their first tournament because we've been practicing on high school questions: initial practices are on whatever easy college questions are at hand and difficulty is gradually ramped-up. We also split our (three weekly) practices by question difficulty and expected skill level of participants so that new players can be promoted to levels where we judge they'll be most productive. We emphasize the benefits of playing (traveling, learning stuff, and winning are the big ones; sometimes, rarely, there's the... I guess glory of a news story or getting to meet some trivia show champion.) We allow each person to determine their own level of commitment, explaining that it's cool if they just want to play but that, if they want to win, we can teach them that, too. We incessantly try to prevent people from being discouraged if (when) they're not one of the very best immediately, explaining that to be really good requires work, that nobody initially is that, and that we can help them to get good if that's what they want.
E.T. Chuck wrote:...do you have any specific strategy, a best practice, or a general team philosophy that welcomes girls/women and others from non-Caucasian or non-Asian demographic backgrounds? What works best in this case?
Of course not. Everyone's welcome and should feel so and we wouldn't tolerate anything that gave an appearance to the contrary (de jure any student organization that did would be disbanded, which I think is right but, of course, selectively enforced; anyway, we are diverse de facto with respect to race, gender, and any number of more meaningful variables.)
I guess I find this diversity discussion misguided, at least for quizbowl on the college level. To me, one of the most unfortunate things about my college experience has been the propensity of people to divide themselves, even at an official level when allowed, into race-, gender-, or orientation-based cliques and thereby limit their experiences. However, I have not found that to be the case for quizbowl; much to the activity's credit, it has always welcomed those willing to work and was, consequently, one of the more diverse of the many activities I've participated in at the college level. My point is that, while there certainly are some groups that ought to be represented more in quizbowl, I think it does a satisfactory job, on the whole, of not rejecting anyone who's interested in it, which is a perfectly natural and non-discriminatory selection criterion that shouldn't be interfered with normally.
(As an aside, we've often joked that, given the number of smaller, inherently discriminatory groups that get more school funding than we do, we ought to exploit our diversity by dividing into a number of strictly segregationist groups and requesting money for each. Popular suggestions included IndiABT; LGBTABT; AABT, for Asians; and Alpha Beta Tau, a white male-only group.)
E.T. Chuck wrote:What are the qualities that you see in students who stay in quiz bowl? I'd like to compare the answers between high school and college team recruitment.
For all players, I like to see a related complex of things: an operational knowledge that this is just a game; an understanding of why things are different than they were in high school (no coach, no resume-padding, not much local hero status regardless of how well you do;) the resilience not to quit after a loss; social skills sufficient to get along with teammates; and a willingness to work enough to help run the team, which will mean helping with tournaments and recruiting and writing questions. An ideal player would also have the innate work ethic needed to get good (which is the most important determiner of eventual skill level,) a relentless will to win and aversion for losing, and some talent, but we're exceedingly fortunate if we get one person like that per year.

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Post by sabine01 » Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:41 pm

I've noticed this in my many years of HS and college play and assisting with HS tournaments: Is it just me, or do you see a number of women fall away from the game in between HS quizbowl and college quizbowl? I kind of feel like teams like the one I advise at GW (a little more than 50/50 with the balance tipping toward women) or teams like orangecrayon's were describing are exception rather than rule. It is a noticably significant drop from my observations...

As misguided as some of you feel this sort discussion is, I think this is a question that has not been fully addressed and needs addressing...

Am I wrong in this observation/feeling?

Do these gals lose their drive all of a sudden? Are they all of a sudden not strong/resilient enough to stick things through the rough and tumble of their first matches? Get distracted by other activities? Get driven away by the antics of teammates or competitors? Do these women need to be handled a little differently?

Discuss... In the meantime, I'm working on an account or two of my own experiences over the years.

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Post by wwellington » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:11 pm

Get distracted by other activities?
My guess would be that this is the main issue. HS players of both genders find other things to do in college, and maybe it's just more noticeable with girls because there are fewer of them to begin with.

I could be totally wrong, though.

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Post by orangecrayon » Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:30 am

In my effort to not ramble too much, somehow the numbers game got left out. To clarify, while three of our four elected officers last year were indeed women, there were six women on a team of 18. That being said, yeah, we've often been the exception to the rule in terms of the number of women we bring to tournaments (of the six of us, five regularly went to tournaments; the sixth joined late in the year and missed most of the action).

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:21 am

wwellington wrote: My guess would be that this is the main issue. HS players of both genders find other things to do in college, and maybe it's just more noticeable with girls because there are fewer of them to begin with.
Most colleges are majority female these days, are they not?

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Post by barnacles » Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:38 am

sabine01 wrote:I've played a fairly good (but small) Morehouse team at UTC tournaments (they were quite friendly guys and quite well-received)...

Though I wonder what became of them? Perhaps they were faced with the same problems other circuit teams generally ran into as far as recruitment/retention was concerned?

~Tricia~
Morehouse was at Berry's Southeastern this past year, so I suppose they still have some people interested in playing, but I don't recall them being anywhere else.

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Post by jbarnes112358 » Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:11 am

Recruiting and retention of good players is not an easy task. We have tried several strategies with varying degrees of success.

Recruiting:

- We try to make our activities and successes as high-profile as possible. People are more interested in joining an activity that is meaningful, active, and successful. So, we put in items for the morning announcements, write articles for the school newslettter and the like. The local TV competition also helps raise awareness.

- We set up a table at freshman orientation each year to let kids know early who we are.

- We set up a table at our annual fall festival, a fun-filled fund-raiser we have on a Friday evening in October. We give people a chance to play one-on-one with another player.

- Last year, I convinced the teachers of a freshman-only class to take a few minutes to give a little written tryout test to help indentify possible candidates. Students who did sufficiently well were offered an official invitation to come for a more thorough tryout.

- One year, we had an open buzzer game going on at lunchtime for a week or so. People who were unfamiliar with quizbowl could pick up a buzzer and try their hand at it. We may try this again.

- We invite people outside our club to help out at our own tournament, which gives them exposure to the game.

Retention

Retention is probably harder than recruiting. This is especially difficult when you have a really good team. The younger folks can really get intimidated by how good the older players are. We have tried to hold separate practices for the newbies so that they would not have to be blown away by the more experienced players. Of course, they eventually must play with the more experienced players and go to tournaments, so they can only be sheltered so long.

Some of the candidates that are identified as having potential simply do not have the interest. Many have conflicts with sports, etc. Some are repulsed by the perceived geekiness of the activity. We try to make the activity as fun and as cool as possible. We like to emphasize the social nature of our club. We even have parties and socials outside of school. We also try to be accepting of each other, even with our divergent and sometimes strange personalities. It helps to have charismatic student leaders to join who have a tendency to bring in others.

Even with all our efforts people inevitably drop out. Usually it is because they don't believe they can get good enough, or they don't want do what is required to get to a high level. Many times they simply don't enjoy the activity. After all, it is not for everybody.

I will not get into the gender and racial issues at this time. Maybe later. There are complex issues of psychology and sociology involved. It would make a good topic for a master's thesis or Ph.D dissertation.


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Post by thepowerofche » Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:13 am

Bruce wrote:
wwellington wrote: My guess would be that this is the main issue. HS players of both genders find other things to do in college, and maybe it's just more noticeable with girls because there are fewer of them to begin with.
Most colleges are majority female these days, are they not?
Pretty sure he meant there are fewer girl quizbowlers to begin with. Else his entire statement wouldn't make much sense in context.

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Post by wwellington » Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:44 pm

Yeah, I meant fewer female quizbowlers (I am one, by the way).

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