2020 Carper Award winners

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2020 Carper Award winners

Post by theMoMA »

ACF is pleased to announce that the 2020 Carper Award winners are Alex Damisch and Mike Sorice!

The ACF membership recognizes Alex for her irreplaceable contributions both within ACF and in the broader quizbowl world. Alex is remarkable because she doesn't just have great ideas; she takes those ideas and wills them into being. She's been central to bringing the major quizbowl organizations together to address misconduct, which is, as far as I know, the single largest step that we've taken as a community toward addressing the game's persistent issues around issues of misbehavior, inclusiveness, and creating a welcoming environment for all participants. She has also done as much work as anyone over the last several years to ensure the continuing operation of ACF. She's been instrumental to efforts to increase active membership, reincorporate the organization as a nonprofit, survey team experiences at tournaments, create new resources for hosts, coordinate sites and mirrors, and sort out the organization's finances. And when I say instrumental, I mean that she has taken all these initiatives from the phase of "good ideas" to "things that ACF regularly does," often by laying out exactly what changes need to be made and doing the hard work herself. Her willingness to step into whatever role is needed, in just about every organization that keeps this game going, has been extremely important, and she has brought energy and new ideas to all those positions. Very few people in this community have the vision to make quizbowl a better place or the drive and work ethic to lead the charge. Alex has both, and it's hard to imagine a more deserving winner of the Carper Award.

Starting last year, ACF has empowered a committee of former Carper winners who are also ACF members to select a second winner each year.

This year, the committee recognizes Mike Sorice. In thinking about all that Mike has meant to college quizbowl, I keep coming back to a very basic fact: he's Mike Sorice, and anyone who's been around for more than a couple tournaments knows what that means. If he can play a tournament, chances are he's there playing, and showing a broad, idiosyncratic knowledge base and unmatched competitive will that stand the test of time. If he can't play, chances are he's there reading in his distinctive style, entertaining everyone with his stories of quizbowl past. Regardless, he's hosting parties at his house and tolerating everyone's antics until well into the morning; he's offering his wisdom and guidance and still taking on responsibilities in quizbowl nearly two decades since playing his first college tournament. One of the things I most appreciate about college quizbowl is the continuity between generations, which is only possible if legendary players like Mike stick around to pass along their stories and hard-earned knowledge. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single quizbowler in Illinois who hasn't benefited from Mike's experience, and his influence goes well beyond the borders of that state. Mike is one of the most colorful, quotable, and accomplished people in this game, and I'm so happy that ACF has decided to recognize him now.

There will be a short ceremony honoring the winners at ACF Nationals in April. Congrats to Alex and Mike!
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Re: 2020 Carper Award winners

Post by Mike Bentley »

Congrats to both winners!
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Re: 2020 Carper Award winners

Post by Cheynem »

Very deserving winners.

Alex has had an immeasurable impact on the game at all levels.

Mike is a legendary figure. I doubt he remembers, but some of his feedback (not necessarily specific comments, but just encouragement and praising effort/trying) on my early questions was very influential in my career.
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Re: 2020 Carper Award winners

Post by Stained Diviner »

I know this award is for service to collegiate quizbowl, but from a high school viewpoint these are great selections.

Alex played a major role in PACE when I was president and moved us forward.

Mike has had an enormous impact on Illinois high school quizbowl and is a major reason that Illinois is ahead of other states. Back when he was an undergrad and graduate student at U of I, he ran tournaments and oversaw sets that became a model for other tournaments and other sets, and I am one of the people who followed his lead.
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Re: 2020 Carper Award winners

Post by Aaron's Rod »

I liked the fact that Mike Bentley and Matt Jackson posted their respective speeches and thank yous on their threads, so I’d like to do the same. Since I’m not sure when or if ACF will post the (amateur) video, this is a bit of a mash-up between the notes I had for myself and what I said semi-extemporaneously last weekend at 2022 ACF Nationals–it’s not quite either of them. I'm not sure I'll host this at this link forever, but for now, here's the video, which includes Ryan Rosenberg's intro. (EDIT: My part starts at around 4:40.)

I wanted to share two pieces of life advice from the time I spent in quizbowl. A lot of the reason why I won this was because of the Misconduct Form. By necessity, I have seen and heard from people in their lowest quizbowl life, and sometimes just life, moments. In case you need to hear this, it’s okay to take a break, or to stop completely. You can even keep most of your quizbowl friends if you want.

Now, you might want to do as I say and not as I do.

Because obviously, since I’m here today, I think quizbowl is worth doing, and it’s brought so much to my life. But my real second point is that your current position is not your destiny, in quizbowl life or in general. At Chicago Open 2015 I could count on one hand the number of people whose faces and names I could match together. When I graduated the next year I had done nothing but lead a club at a "DII-only" liberal arts school*. I figured I would go to grad school, here, staff things occasionally, and that would be more or less that. So, what happened? I basically met the right people who encouraged me, especially at the "Will Alston Open" and This Tournament Is A Crime. People made me feel included and told me I should come to more stuff, so I did. Running an inter-organizational anti-harassment effort; editing the music for 2019 Nationals; playing so many tournaments during the pandemic—these things were all total surprises I never saw coming.

*When speaking extemporaneously I erroneously claimed that Lawrence had never sent a team to an ACF Regionals–that’s not actually true, but they only did before I went there.

So if you're stuck socially or creatively, take a break or try something else. There are so many different ways to engage in this community. Quizbowl life is full of surprises, and your next opportunity might be around the corner. Don’t burn out on one thing and lose hope due to a failure of imagination. That’s true for players and writers, and it’s true socially, too. Your current position is not your destiny.

And now, I’m going to do the part where I thank a lot of people. The following people share in this award because of the impact they’ve had on me, it is dedicated to all of them. You can tune out until you hear your name.

To the people at Lawrence who got me my pyramidal quizbowl start: James Maverick, Dakota Williams, my sorority big Natalie Schermer, and Shannon Kreuser.

To Greg Peterson, also a Lawrence alum, and possibly the first person to tell me I should staff a national quizbowl tournament.

To some of the first connections I made outside of Lawrence: Max Schindler, Charlie Dees, and John Lawrence. When I had an unhappy situation in my own club I really enjoyed getting to know the wider community at summer UChicago practices. Special shoutout to Charlie Dees and the important and brave posts he made during a certain quizbowl “me too” moment. As Charlie once quoted Kanye about our relationship, “the mob can’t make me not love him, we are both dragon energy.”

To Eric Mukherjee, low-key one of the best listeners in quizbowl, particularly when I really needed it.

To the fine people at NAQT, especially Nathan Murphy, Joel Gluskin, and Dr. Emily Pike. I really enjoyed getting to work with them on Misconduct Form stuff.

To Connie and Jesse Tzeng and Tejas Raje, my real-life, week-in-week-out people. Thank you for your years of friendship, and may you never pay for your drinks at Navigator Taproom.

To Auroni Gupta, for opening up an unimaginable editing opportunity for me, and then more importantly, supporting me and my ideas every step of the way when I was definitely too new to be editing ACF Nationals.

To Billy Busse, Ryan Rosenberg, Cody Voight, and the rest of ACF’s 2019-2020 officers and editors, including players to be named later. The previous year had been so difficult for me as Treasurer and as a misconduct person, and the drive and humor that they brought to their quizbowl duties truly revived my love for quizbowl in a way that I hadn’t thought was possible anymore. Especially because that office board ended their terms in the spring of 2020, that board did so much work for quizbowl and so thoughtfully and under the worst of circumstances.

To Rob Carson and Bernadette Spencer–I don’t even know what to put here. Thank you for all of the doors you opened for me in quizbowl. I would not be the person I am today without both of you. The first time I ever met Bernadette, in particular, was at 2014 ACF Fall in Blegen Hall, and she was yelling at Rob to make sure I got the packets. She didn’t even know my name. While a lot of things have changed since then, also, nothing has changed either.

To JinAn Kim and Olivia Murton, your friendships in quizbowl and for everything else have been truly life-giving. Thank you for everything.

To Matt Bollinger, the person who really convinced me a better life in quizbowl was possible and stayed friends with me while I very clumsily figured out what that would look like.

Antepenultimately, to my friend who is now Brother Jeremiah at St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in Pennsylvania, whose positive, normal mentorship helped rewire my brain after many negative quizbowl experiences.

Penultimately, to my immediate family, who has shared me with postgraduate quizbowl nationals for over half a decade and let me miss bridal showers, Mother’s Day lunches, and family reunions for it.

And finally, to the section I wrote only 72 hours ago, to my biggest supporter, my favorite travel partner, my best friend, my sanity check and my sanity in general, the love of my life; to John, my husband. My own mother first met John when we were traveling for Sectionals many years ago and then told me we should date, and now she tells me "you better not screw this up." Я очень люблю тебя, I could not have done this without you.

To ACF and to everybody here, thank you very much. Good luck to everyone this weekend.
Alex D.

"You operate at a shorter wavelength and higher frequency than most human beings." —Victor Prieto
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