Academic Team: Facts and myths

High school sports are like a sandstorm. Football and basketball seasons buffet the obscure, and it’s practically impossible to see past them. The players, I mean; not the seasons. The football and basketball players are monstrous human beings. They are the giant sand flakes, and high school is the desert. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the way to the plains. However, there is a diamond in the rough. The Academic Team is consistently trampled on like a piece of roadkill. No glory, just guts. And it sure does take hearty guts to face obscurity and become a labeled nerd. Still, a few brave students have weathered the storm, taken the beating, and accept the facts. Better yet, the Academic Team members spit out the facts to win matches. Matches are held every Tuesday during the winter sports season. Members gather in the basement of Elder High School before travelling to Cincinnati State Technical College. Teams are assigned specific rooms, and two opposing schools are pitted against each other in a battle of wits and trivia. Starting off, a round of twenty questions are presented. The players have four minutes to write answers to the problems, all of which begin with a certain letter of the alphabet. Each question is worth one point and if all twenty questions are answered correctly, five bonus points are awarded. In the next round, the questions come in categories spanning various textbook topics. Teams are allowed to consult among themselves, trying to successfully answer the questions before time runs out. Points are awarded in one- or two-point allocations, depending on the number of guesses a team took to answer a specific question. This team-oriented round generally separates the dominant team from the other. Wrapping up the match, a series of thirty, unrelated questions are rapidly asked and answered. The questions have no particular rhyme or reason, and each are worth one point. Many valiant comebacks have been staged during the lightning round. That’s it. That’s how a match is played. May the myths be settled. Of course, there wouldn’t be any myths without any mythical figures. Michael Kay, a junior at Elder, has been a vital part of the team since his freshman year. “I just heard announcements about it and decided to try it out,” he said. “At first, it was extremely confusing. The competitions are scaled more towards seniors, so it was difficult during my first couple of years,” Kay remarked. Chris Deters, a sophomore team member, shares a similar story. “I heard announcements concerning the Academic Team, so I joined, “ he said. “I wanted to do something with my mind.” Even though Kay and Deters are leaders of a young, inexperienced team, it could not function without the coach, Mr. Rick Ceddia. “Coach Ceddia is a pretty cool dude,” Kay jokingly remarked. Deters added, “He’s a good coach, very knowledgeable. He understands that it’s [Academic Team] more for fun, not competitiveness. If you didn’t have fun, you didn’t win.” The team has done well, advancing to post-season play later this month. Until then, members are warming up their math skills and composer trivia. Tchaikovsky? Mozart? Check and check. Yeah, football and basketball will always dominate the sports kingdom. There’s no denying it. It’s like a sandstorm, big and deadly. However, there truly is a diamond in the rough. Aladdin’s coming to find it. And, by the way, Aladdin didn’t originate as a Disney movie. True fact. Just ask the Academic Team guys. On a side note, both Kay and Deters wanted to advertise, asking students to sign up for next year. “You don’t have to be the smartest person to join!” Deters remarked. “Not for nerds and geeks only!”