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Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:35 pm
by Snoopy
Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about each of the sub-regional circuits in the Tri-state. I now know all there is about Quizbowl on Long Island, in Westchester, in Rockland (which actually has a previously-unknown robust circuit), and in the rest of the Hudson Valley.

I started digging into North Jersey and I’m just not quite sure what is going on. From what I can see, it's highly fragmented and there’s a huge hodgepodge of events, with a powerful good Quizbowl circuit (tournaments regularly pulling upper double digits) coexisting with all manner of Chipbowl, random Jeopardy-style tournaments, Academic Decathlon, and God knows what else. What stands out to me has to be the Jeopardy-style tournaments, which seem entirely unique to the area.

I’m wondering if anyone can answer any of these questions. If you can, thanks for your help.

-- What leagues do you know of? Do any have webpages?
-- Does NORJAC still exist? Does it still pull a lot of teams? Is there any chance there’s a list of them?
-- What was NORJAC like? What exactly is the format? Who writes the questions?
-- I’ve found a Quizbowl thing called the “Sussex County Interscholastic League”. It seems to also be called Academic Bowl. The only thing I can find on it is an athletic association by the same name. Is it the same organization? The athletic league seems to have gone defunct; is the Quizbowl portion still active? (It seems to have been using AUK questions, btw)
-- How powerful is Academic Decathlon there?
-- What is the Phillipsburg Tournament? Is that a Chipbowl thing? I can find no record of it outside press releases. Phillipsburg seems to be a regular NAC contender as well.
-- What about the Donovan Catholic Academic Challenge? The Sandy Hook Pop Culture Tournament (Run by MAST?) Any other (semi)-unknown tournaments that you can bring out the shadows? Do you have any flyers for them?
-- I know I got a NORJAC flyer in my inbox five or six years ago, but I lost it. Does anyone have one?
-- Is there anything else I should know, aside from “turn around and run away”?

Obviously, I’m not expecting answers to every single question, and there’s a lot of research still to do. But, that being said, I’d greatly appreciate whatever insight you can provide.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:24 am
by cchiego
There are some other good posts about the recent state of NJ quizbowl as a whole in this thread. I'm sure past/current NJ coaches and players have more info too to add to some of the questions here.
-- Does NORJAC still exist? Does it still pull a lot of teams? Is there any chance there’s a list of them?
NORJAC definitely still exists. According to a blurb here, it got over 70+ teams in 2018. That's much bigger than any pyramidal quizbowl tournament in NJ. Searching for news releases and social media posts about it can get you a decent list of teams that attend each year.
-- What about the Donovan Catholic Academic Challenge?
Donovan Catholic's tournament still exists too, although it seems smaller than in past years. It seems more Central NJ though than North NJ in terms of teams.
-- What is the Phillipsburg Tournament? Is that a Chipbowl thing?
Phillipsburg is definitely a Chip thing. It actually connects the NJ Chip stuff to the Lehigh Valley teams in PA that still like Chip questions. The Phillipsburg Team is pretty active on Twitter. From that, it appears there's also a non-pyramidal event at North Hunterdon as well.
Any other (semi)-unknown tournaments that you can bring out the shadows?
In addition to the Sussex County league, there's also a Somerset County league that was active as recently as last year for sure. The BRITE tournament is still around. South Jersey is even more crammed with teams and leagues (see a previous post on this). Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Atlantic, and Cape May counties all have some kind of local league. It's been very, very hard to get a response from most of the schools in these areas though to tournament invitations for Southeastern PA. At least one school has mentioned the challenge in getting school board approval for out-of-state trips as a reason. But the response rate for schools with teams in NJ has been worse than anything I've seen even with emails and snail mails. The mindset of Jeopardy! teams is outlined fairly well by some of the posts in this old thread.
-- Is there anything else I should know, aside from “turn around and run away”?
There's no need to run away, but there definitely seems to be a need for some kind of rethinking in how pyramidal tournaments are marketed/organized in the region if the goal is to get more of these schools playing pyramidal questions. The main problem is that when teams from the shadow circuit venture to pyramidal events, they tend to struggle with even the B and C teams of the regular quizbowl circuit attendees. Not surprisingly, they rarely come back or only attend pyramidal tournaments in brief spurts.

Another issue might be that thanks to the central location of NJ the pyramidal tournaments often fill up very quickly with team registrations from out-of-state and the regular circuit team attendees (see Princeton's event this year and, to a lesser extent, some NYC-area ones). It seems like there are enough schools in the area that you could do a SEPA tournament, a NJ tournament, and a NYC tournament on the same date to relieve some of the hosting capacity pressure, but that would require careful coordination. Also, since fields tend to fill anyways, it doesn't seem like there's been much success/interest in running split Varsity/JV division events. Princeton's novice-only tournament last year was a good start, but as the small number of attendees suggests it's an ongoing challenge to get shadow circuit teams to tournaments in a critical mass.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:21 am
by thederpyaxolotl
Essex County Steering Committee has also been running a middle school/elementary school tournament for years now, though it's pretty small (probably 10 teams max/division) compared to a lot of the other events in the area.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:21 am
by DogeofVenice
This might be tangential to the rest of the thread, but I feel that the reason for the relative strength of non-pyramidal quizbowl in New Jersey is how willing good pyramidal teams are to "get their hands dirty" in other formats. While I was at High Tech, we regularly sent teams to NORJAC as well as local Jeopardy tournaments, and profits from our house-written Jeopardy tournament would make up the vast majority of funds we would raise in a given year.

I don't necessarily think the diversity of formats and that fact that pyramidal teams playing non-pyramidal formats in Jersey is a bad thing, as it does provide the opportunity for non-pyramidal teams to get introduced to pyramidal quizbowl and reorient their team's focus towards it. High Tech made this transition back in 2012-2013 and I've seen several other schools make the jump over the last 6 years. We even got a few teams from said Jeopardy tournament to try pyramidal quizbowl at QuBIT my senior year. I do agree that there's a a big difficulty gap between non-pyramidal and pyramidal quizbowl that most New Jersey teams are going to find hard to straddle, but the shift towards pyramidal quizbowl at schools like Teterboro and Ranney in recent years gives me hope for the future of the circuit, even if this might simply be because of the relative dearth of quizbowl in general in Central Jersey.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 3:37 pm
by Snoopy
Thanks for the information!

What I'm really doing here is trying to find all the different leagues, tournaments, and so on in North Jersey. In this way, we know what we're coexisting with/competing against (whichever mindset you'd like to take). I'm not out to destroy them; I just want to have a complete picture of the circuit there.

And my goodness, there's so much more here than any of us thought.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:44 pm
by DogeofVenice
Joe, I hope I didn't come off as hostile or trying to suppose you wanted to destroy anything non-pyramidal in Jersey. I really appreciate the effort to catalog this stuff, for lack of a better term, especially since it'll be a colossal effort with all the various formats going on.

To be honest, it wouldn't be a bad thing if all those leagues were destroyed, though I think we could grow the circuit significantly by appealing to these teams, especially those who play NHBB (there are a significant amount of NJ NHBB teams who don't participate in normal pyramidal quizbowl, although some are now branching into it, with Newark Academy and Homdel coming to mind).

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:09 pm
by Snoopy
You didn't come off hostile at all. That wasn't the takeaway I got-- I just wanted to clarify my intentions. "Catalog" seems to be the best term, describing precisely what I'm doing.

Since you're from HT, what do you know about the Hudson County Academic League? (Specifically, what schools participate? I'm having a lot of trouble finding out, but since HT actively participates in it, I figured you'd know.)

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:00 pm
by Dead Parrot
Snoopy wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:09 pm
Since you're from HT, what do you know about the Hudson County Academic League? (Specifically, what schools participate? I'm having a lot of trouble finding out, but since HT actively participates in it, I figured you'd know.)
That's a different school. The High Tech that participates in the pyramidal circuit is located in Monmouth County, in Central Jersey. The High Tech in Hudson County doesn't do good quizbowl, as far as I'm aware.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:26 pm
by Snoopy
Dead Parrot wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:00 pm
That's a different school. The High Tech that participates in the pyramidal circuit is located in Monmouth County, in Central Jersey. The High Tech in Hudson County doesn't do good quizbowl, as far as I'm aware.
:aaa:

My apologies.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:30 pm
by Dead Parrot
Snoopy wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:26 pm
Dead Parrot wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:00 pm
That's a different school. The High Tech that participates in the pyramidal circuit is located in Monmouth County, in Central Jersey. The High Tech in Hudson County doesn't do good quizbowl, as far as I'm aware.
:aaa:

My apologies.
If you think that's bad, wait'll you learn how many Washington Townships we've got in the Garden State.

Re: Enlighten me on the North Jersey circuit

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:49 pm
by Snoopy
Dead Parrot wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:30 pm
Snoopy wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:26 pm
Dead Parrot wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:00 pm
That's a different school. The High Tech that participates in the pyramidal circuit is located in Monmouth County, in Central Jersey. The High Tech in Hudson County doesn't do good quizbowl, as far as I'm aware.
:aaa:

My apologies.
If you think that's bad, wait'll you learn how many Washington Townships we've got in the Garden State.
There's more Washington Townships than Kennedy High Schools... what is this place