Motivating Teammates

New high school teams looking for advice should post here.
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Motivating Teammates

Post by hearttheartist »

I am currently in middle school, but my team and I are going to move on to high school next year. We do well in the middle school tournaments we've attended and qualified for the MSNCT through a tournament and through a wild card application (we applied before we qualified through a recent tournament), but it looks doubtful right now that we'll be able to get the money to go to Chicago, and out of the four people on my team, only two of us care. One person refuses to study unless we can go to Nationals and another isn't as good as the rest of us and will just go with whatever, not showing a real interest, but willing to go. At our school, we technically have a coach, but she doesn't help us whatsoever and we know that there is no coach at the highschool, which is disorganized as well. We really have to improve because we place high in middle school tournaments, but high school is a different story, with many teams that are nationally recognized and very well established. We really need to get our act together or suffer next year and I was wondering if any of you guys have some tips for us :) Thank you!
Jessica - Beck Junior High
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Re: Motivating Teammates

Post by nvraptor »

Your story sounds a great deal like mine. I wasn't as motivated as you are now in middle school, but I wish I had been. Here's some advice I can give.

1. Find more people who would be interested in Quiz Bowl in high school. There'll inevitably be more people, so you'll most likely find people from other schools who are more motivated to study and improve than your current teammates.

2. If possible, find a coach or someone to be your "sponsor" in high school. I don't know if the absence of a coach is due to lack of interest or lack of awareness, but either way, having a teacher backing your team makes it much more official. Preferably, you want to try to find a teacher who will be actively involved and open to the idea of practicing more. This will also help because with a teacher, the high school is more likely to consider funding a quiz bowl program. If you can't find a teacher, try considering parents. If you or another person on your team have a parent or know an adult who is responsible and can also dedicate some time to quiz bowl, that's much better than nothing.

2b. If you can't find any adult to sponsor your team, which is the worst case scenario, you and your team might have to fly solo. That doesn't mean you can't compete, though.

3. I wish I had known this three years ago: register for as many extra tournaments and invitationals as you can. If you and your team want to be serious about competing, you have to get all the experience that you can get. They'll cost some extra money and can often be up to 2 or more hours away, but it's always worth it. This is also why it's good to have adult support: you need money and transportation. In my experience, most tournament directors will be receptive to the fact that you're taking your own initiative to sign up for tournaments and will let you play, even if you don't technically have a coach.

4. This is the most important one. STUDY! The transition from middle school to high school could be difficult in quiz bowl, because there's probably a ton of stuff that you'll never have heard of. Don't give up. Use resources such as and the Torrey Pines database to get yourself up to speed with the canon of high school quiz bowl, and include your teammates in your efforts as well. It can take you a long way.

5. Finally, though, don't forget to have fun with it!

Best of luck to you!
Patrick Huang
Northville High School '12

Sometimes also known as Central.
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Re: Motivating Teammates

Post by Great Bustard »

One tip: try and specialize as much as you can on your team. That way, you can hopefully find someone to study something they already like, or are interested in. At some level, your situation is a very common one, but if you can show people that this is really fun and that they can have their own subject to focus on, it can really help your team develop in a coherent way.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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David Riley
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Re: Motivating Teammates

Post by David Riley »

Patrick and David offer some good advice. What state are you in? Let us know and we can point you to some key people who might be able to help.

I would also like to address Patrick's point #2. Finding a sponsor can be difficult in terms of one who will work closely with the team. Many teachers do not want to give up their Saturdays, and you may indeed need to fly solo. In that case, you need to become aware of the tournaments in and within driving distance of your area and be proactive in all other aspects of quizbowl: practices, questions, etc. Good luck and let us know if there is anything else we can do to help!
David Riley
Coach Emeritus, Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Illinois, 1993-2010
Steering Committee, IHSSBCA, 1996 -
Member, PACE, 2012 -

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Re: Motivating Teammates

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

If your teammates have negative attitudes about quiz bowl, or aren't reciprocating your efforts, they shouldn't be on the team. As a freshman last year, I felt heavily annoyed by the seemingly absent effort put forth by the older players on my team (our quiz team hasn't "started" a freshman in more than 15 years, and last year another freshman and I broke that streak). I'm not sure what really inspires a group of people to be so lazy to the point but so motivated to give up their Saturday to play quiz bowl if they aren't any good at it (I'm referencing to kids who had at least two years of quiz bowl experience prior and never worked to their potential). It's hard to motivate kids who have snob attitudes about every thing to get better at anything, be it a sport or quiz bowl. This year, because our team is predominately underclassmen and our class of 2014 and 2015 collectively as a whole put forth more effort to get better than our class of 2011 ever did, our A and B team are a lot better this year than they were last year and there's even increased competition amongst ourselves. It's also worth noting that the easiest kids to motivate are probably your friends on the team.

As for nationals, the only thing that'll ever inspire a player to "get better" is the idea of getting a plane ticket to wherever nationals your team is attending and "partying it up". I'm sure there's a good percentage of teens on quiz bowl squads who are only in it for that trip to Atlanta, St. Louis, etc and are only interested in seeing the city, having fun, and not playing quiz bowl. In that instance, if they already possess a snobby, lazy attitude towards quiz bowl, one thing that sure as heck won't motivate them to go even farther in working is the idea of going 6-4 at HSNCT and making playoffs since doing playoffs means less time walking around, experiencing the city.
Thomas Moore
Lancaster Fisher Catholic HS c/o 2014
Ohio Wesleyan University c/o 2018
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Re: Motivating Teammates

Post by AKKOLADE »

There's several levels of commitment people are willing to make to qb, and differing numbers of people on those different tiers of interest. It's a bit silly to expect everyone to cram to get to 100 ppgs.
Fred Morlan
University of Kentucky CoP, 2017
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Re: Motivating Teammates

Post by ProfessorIanDuncan »

There is a Quiz Bowl group on Facebook. It has over 350 members and it has certainly has helped me. You can play with people around your skill level on You can also hold additional practices online for the team via skype or tinychat. Practicing on your free time in a game style environment is very helpful. Also make sure your teammate have access to packets for them to read.
Alec Vulfson
Irvington High School '13
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