Uncooperative coach

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Uncooperative coach

Post by revereac » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:05 pm

Hello, I'm relatively new to these boards (I've just been lurking for a month or two).

I'm in a bit of a dilemma because my coach doesn't like pyramidal questions and is very stubbornly against any other formats other than our state (Ohio) format which is a three quarter format with one line tossups during the quarters with tossups. Our regional tournament in our state format was held this last Saturday and not surprisingly, the teams that are good at pyramidal questions were the ones that placed in the top two and are going to the state tournament. I was wondering what I could do to get our coach to start practicing tossup bonus formats or even, god forbid, to start liking pyramidal questions.

I actually brought up the point that the people who know more get questions faster in pyramidal tossups, but my coach responded by saying that it's a waste of time to use pyramidal questions. I don't know how to approach this without causing problems. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Jacob Hudspeth
Revere High School '12

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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:34 pm

These are a few solutions:

-offer a compromise, like perhaps half of the practice on pyramidal, half on speedcheck
-suggest switching to pyramidal for practice and then seeing if the team improves statistically (like a "put up or shut up" moment)
-organize your own practices on pyramidal stuff on your own time

From my own perspective, it is not productive to get into a big argument with your coach. Just like the X-Men, people fear what they don't understand sometimes, and if your coach has lack of experience with pyramidal stuff, it's understandable why he might not be enthused about it. See what you can do and try to reach some common ground.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Kanga-Rat Murder Society » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:08 pm

This is a dilemma that I am all too familiar with. In high school, my coach was not against good quizbowl as much he was just against spending large amounts of time as a quizbowl coach. He signed up under the assumption that he was going to coach our team for our conference season, take us to a tournament or two that was within a ten minute drive, and play the IHSA State Series. Since all of these events were in our terrible state format, this produced the same end result as it sounds like you have, namely refusing to play pyramidal questions.

I actually started a similar thread last year, seen here: http://hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic. ... re#p117313

Anyways, the way that our team handled our uncooperative coach was simply to go around him. At a certain point, we realized that we were never going to get him to approve of a serious schedule. We started organizing our own practices. Every week, people would come over to my house for a couple of hours to play ping pong and quizbowl. This helped to build team chemistry and before too long people who would have never defied our coach were regularly attending our rouge practices.

We managed to attend tournaments by enlisting help from others. We spoke to our gym teacher about the situation and got him to take us to a tournament. We got our F/S Scho Bowl coach to take us to another tournament. We wanted to attend an NAQT tournament before nationals, and since none were availabe around us, we went to a tournament at Michigan State. At the end of the year, we were somehow able to convince him to take us to HSNCT, where we made the playoffs.

Of course, there are some differences between our situations. The most obvious one is that our coach was not offended when we went to pyramidal tournaments without him, and it seems like your coach would be. That said, I will give you the following tips.

1. If your coach thinks that pyramidal questions are a waste of time, I doubt you will be able to reason him into changing his mind. Instead of confronting him or her, simply protest by playing pyramidal questions on your own.

2. I am not super-familiar with the bonus structure of the OAC, but if it is at least similar to NAQT style, you should be able to convince your coach to play good bonuses, as I don't think they are any longer than speed-check bonuses (so they will not be "a waste of time").

3. Contact tournament directors around your area and see if they will allow you and your friends to play as a rogue team. This way you will get the same experience as schoools with good coaches. Additionally, it is likely that these TDs will offer you discounts if you are playing solo or your team cannot afford it.

4. If your coach finds out about you going behind their back and confronts you about it, do not be afraid to quit the team. The ultimate goal of quizbowl is to be involved in a fun, academic based competition which will hopefully teach you things worth knowing. If you are not accomplishing this within the structure of your school's team, then leave the team. I have a feeling that many people on the boards and elsewhere will respect your decision and let you play tournaments.

Hopefully, you can come up with a good solution to this problem. Do not be afraid to reach out to the people on this board and the Ohio board for help, as we are the people who understand what you are going through. One of the great aspects about pryamidal quizbowl is that the circuits are really like communities.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by ryandillon » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:27 pm

Yeah dude. If worse comes to worse you can always attend tournaments as "Pallet Town Prep" or something like that. Ohio has a pretty solid good quiz-bowl circuit going and I'm sure that a good amount of tournaments would help you out in coming to their tournaments if your team needed it.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Gaterion » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:06 pm

OAC's really weird. It has three rounds, a category round with ten set categories, one question to each team per category with bouncebacks, and one tossup which should be pyramidal. That's ten pyramidal questions there. After this is the alphabet round, which has twenty worksheet questions all starting with the same letter. These should be like bonuses, in that they don't have to be pyramidal. The last round is the lightning round, with twenty shorter questions that also should be pyramidal. Out of seventy total questions, thirty are or should be pyramidal. Of course, questions in different rounds have different values, but out of a total possible number of points of 95, 40 are on pyramidal questions. Tell him that pyramidal questions will help you on the tossups and lightning round.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Unicolored Jay » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:30 pm

Hey there fellow Ohio-er!
Gaterion wrote:OAC's really weird. It has three rounds, a category round with ten set categories, one question to each team per category with bouncebacks, and one tossup which should be pyramidal. That's ten pyramidal questions there. After this is the alphabet round, which has twenty worksheet questions all starting with the same letter. These should be like bonuses, in that they don't have to be pyramidal. The last round is the lightning round, with twenty shorter questions that also should be pyramidal. Out of seventy total questions, thirty are or should be pyramidal. Of course, questions in different rounds have different values, but out of a total possible number of points of 95, 40 are on pyramidal questions. Tell him that pyramidal questions will help you on the tossups and lightning round.
This depends on who is writing the question set, however. Since it was Bob Kilner, Steven Wellstead, and others who support pyramidal questions writing the regionals/states sets, the tossups were pyramidal, but other than Northmont's tournament, that hasn't been seen anywhere else. Pyramidal tossups worked to the advantage of us and Copley, as well for Olmsted Falls and other regular travelers.

Although your coach is wrong, there really isn't much of a point in bickering. At least try it out yourself and see whether it helps or not. Having done this myself, I can attest that it does, to some extent.

I like the idea of traveling on your own. If you can do that, you'll be expanding your own opportunities, learn more, and have more fun. There are quite a few tournaments in your area every year (such as ours and Case's) that you should really try to go to. Visit the Ohio boards here if you need some help.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Dominator » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:42 pm

Dear Jacob,
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Luckily you have found a supportive group to help you in your quest for better quiz bowl.
I would like to offer my perspective as a teacher and a coach.
First off, do you know why your coach finds pyramidal tossups a waste of time? I don't understand the opinion that it wastes time unless (1) he is unaware you can buzz in early when you know the answer, so it's not like you sit around waiting for the moderator to read through ungodly-long questions (2) he does not understand that the players enjoy it more. Either way, it's worth trying to explain both of these points. Maybe you could even have students run a practice on some good questions so that he can see it for himself.
Some reasons he may not want to be involved with "good quizbowl" are that (1) he is accustomed to and fond of the current system (2) he does not know how to be involved with good quizbowl (3) he might have genuine concerns that "good quizbowl" is not the best version of quizbowl. If (1) is the case, then I'm not sure what to say, as we have our hands full in Illinois fighting a similar attitude. If (2) is the case, let him know there are great free resources online to make him better. This site and quizbowlpackets.com stand out in that regard. If (3) is the case, then he is in the same boat as several dozen other coaches across the country that are debating this point on these forums everyday. I would encourage him to join the debate.
Ultimately, I would simply find a good tourney and ask your coach calmly if he will take you. If not, ask him if there is anyone else who would be willing to. Understand that he might have other reasons for not being able to take you, like family commitments. If he is still unwilling to help you, it is probably necessary to get parents to contact an athletic organization or the principal. The message may fall on deaf ears, but it may not.
Finally, quizbowlers are incredibly supportive and will probably be willing to negotiate entry fees and such with you if you are forced to play rogue.
Best of luck.
Dr. Noah Prince

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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by MahoningQuizBowler » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:00 am

Jacob, do you have a base of other players who believe what you believe -- that good quizbowl is better than bad, and that playing good quizbowl like the other teams that do will help you win things and learn stuff? If you're fighting the battle alone, it's going to be tough.

See if you can find another teacher in the building who might be a bit more sympathetic to your cause. All supplemental contracts are on a year-to-year basis, so if your coach gets a stipend, then the district has to post the job for bidding each school year. If someone else would be willing to throw their hat in the ring, it might have a positive result. It might also allow for a compromise where the new teacher becomes an assistant coach, letting the head coach save face and allowing you guys to travel with the assistant to tournaments you want to compete in.

Summit County is the oldest and most fortified bastion of OAC, so I don't envy the position you and your teammates are in. But, as others have said, you have a community around you -- particularly to the north -- that will help you in any way that they can. If you haven't already, sign up for the Ohio boards and repost this there for more feedback.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:50 am

4. If your coach finds out about you going behind their back and confronts you about it, do not be afraid to quit the team. The ultimate goal of quizbowl is to be involved in a fun, academic based competition which will hopefully teach you things worth knowing. If you are not accomplishing this within the structure of your school's team, then leave the team. I have a feeling that many people on the boards and elsewhere will respect your decision and let you play tournaments.
I find this to be unrealistic advice for the most part. Nowhere near everybody is lucky enough to be able to make this sort of thing work. Many high schoolers don't have cars or money, have school, whatever, and couldn't possibly pull this off. Moreover, some states explicitly ban this. Not regarding the fact that I didn't have transportation, if I were to have quit my high school team I would have been totally banned from any tournament held in Missouri. Unless you are wealthy, have a car, and have the rest line up (parents, lenient circuit policies, and lucky liability rules from your school), it can be impossible for most high schoolers to make it to a single tournament to play. Unless your team literally gets to the point where there is no possible way to convince your coach to change, and you would literally rather not play quizbowl than play whatever is available to you, I would really caution against going entirely rogue, and even then, I would suggest trying to form a second club to focus on non-OAC activity, so that you can actually have a functioning team.
However, something that probably has the best chance of working is getting good at good quizbowl, maybe trying to get your teammates to do the same on their own time, and then try to get your play to the point where you guys are indispensable if your team wants to be successful, and then start insisting your coach take you to good tournaments or you won't play the crap like OAC for them. Unless your coach is so ideologically bound to bad quizbowl that she would literally rather lose all her chances of winning awards than play good tournaments, I think you could at least strike a compromise that will let you play some worthwhile stuff without having to lose institutional support.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by quizbowllee » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:50 am

I agree with Charlie... Advising a high school student to go behind the backs of his coach and administrators is a dangerous thing to do. While there is no rule in Alabama that would ban a player for this practice, it's probably not a good idea. I know that if my players pulled something like this behind my back, I would be furious. Furthermore, I'm not sure what the administrators in our school and school system would do, but it wouldn't be good.

I was in a similar position in high school. Unfortunately, I had to "grin and bear it." I wasn't even aware that pyramidal questions EXISTED when I was in high school. My suggestion is to study hard on your own, try to appeal to your coach, and play in college.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Charbroil » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:58 am

quizbowllee wrote:I agree with Charlie... Advising a high school student to go behind the backs of his coach and administrators is a dangerous thing to do. While there is no rule in Alabama that would ban a player for this practice, it's probably not a good idea. I know that if my players pulled something like this behind my back, I would be furious. Furthermore, I'm not sure what the administrators in our school and school system would do, but it wouldn't be good.
I mean, whereas I agree that openly defying one's coach and quitting the team could be a bit much, are you making the argument that it's inappropriate for a player to play any sort of Quiz Bowl without informing his/her coach? I wouldn't necessarily consider that going behind someone's back, so much as "taking the initiative to go to a tournament which one would otherwise not be able to attend." Assuming the school team wasn't going to another tournament the same day (which would be somewhat inappropriate), that doesn't seem any more inappropriate than, say, a tennis player signing up for a tennis tournament in his spare time without informing his/her coach.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by quizbowllee » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:29 am

Charbroil wrote:
quizbowllee wrote:I agree with Charlie... Advising a high school student to go behind the backs of his coach and administrators is a dangerous thing to do. While there is no rule in Alabama that would ban a player for this practice, it's probably not a good idea. I know that if my players pulled something like this behind my back, I would be furious. Furthermore, I'm not sure what the administrators in our school and school system would do, but it wouldn't be good.
I mean, whereas I agree that openly defying one's coach and quitting the team could be a bit much, are you making the argument that it's inappropriate for a player to play any sort of Quiz Bowl without informing his/her coach?
No. Although, I don't see any reason for any of MY players to do this. But, it's not MY players we're talking about. Basically, it comes down to liability. If my players went to a tournament without my knowledge and competed as "Brindlee Mountain" that would be a problem. I'm not sure how this works in other school systems, but in order to attend a tournament, I have to fill out paperwork to (a) Get the tournament approved. (b) Get travel approved. (c) Get a check cut for the tournament. (d) Get professional leave (when applicable) for myself.

Furthermore, in our school system, all students must be transported by bus to and from all tournaments. This is a huge inconvenience and one that I'm not sure how other schools get around. Parents can transport their own kids, but are not allowed to transport any other students. Students are absolutely FORBIDDEN to drive themselves to a tournament. I would likely be fired if I knowingly allowed a student to do this. All travel must be approved by the Board of Education and a certified bus driver must transport the team on a big, yellow bus.

If my team went to a tournament without going through this process, I would probably be held responsible, even if I knew nothing about it. I'm not saying that's right or fair, but it's just the way it is.

The difference between this and - to use your example - a tennis player is that there are tennis leagues/tournaments that are open to players without any kind of school affiliation. In a tennis tournament, a player represents himself or herself - not an educational entity.

Now, the caveat would be "open" tournaments that don't require a school affiliation. These are very rare in our area and usually occur in the summer (at Chattanooga, for example). I have no problem with my players attending these on their own.

That's probably more information than you wanted, but I felt obligated to explain my position more clearly.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Charbroil » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:29 pm

quizbowllee wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
quizbowllee wrote:I agree with Charlie... Advising a high school student to go behind the backs of his coach and administrators is a dangerous thing to do. While there is no rule in Alabama that would ban a player for this practice, it's probably not a good idea. I know that if my players pulled something like this behind my back, I would be furious. Furthermore, I'm not sure what the administrators in our school and school system would do, but it wouldn't be good.
I mean, whereas I agree that openly defying one's coach and quitting the team could be a bit much, are you making the argument that it's inappropriate for a player to play any sort of Quiz Bowl without informing his/her coach?
No. Although, I don't see any reason for any of MY players to do this. But, it's not MY players we're talking about. Basically, it comes down to liability. If my players went to a tournament without my knowledge and competed as "Brindlee Mountain" that would be a problem. I'm not sure how this works in other school systems, but in order to attend a tournament, I have to fill out paperwork to (a) Get the tournament approved. (b) Get travel approved. (c) Get a check cut for the tournament. (d) Get professional leave (when applicable) for myself.

Furthermore, in our school system, all students must be transported by bus to and from all tournaments. This is a huge inconvenience and one that I'm not sure how other schools get around. Parents can transport their own kids, but are not allowed to transport any other students. Students are absolutely FORBIDDEN to drive themselves to a tournament. I would likely be fired if I knowingly allowed a student to do this. All travel must be approved by the Board of Education and a certified bus driver must transport the team on a big, yellow bus.

If my team went to a tournament without going through this process, I would probably be held responsible, even if I knew nothing about it. I'm not saying that's right or fair, but it's just the way it is.

The difference between this and - to use your example - a tennis player is that there are tennis leagues/tournaments that are open to players without any kind of school affiliation. In a tennis tournament, a player represents himself or herself - not an educational entity.

Now, the caveat would be "open" tournaments that don't require a school affiliation. These are very rare in our area and usually occur in the summer (at Chattanooga, for example). I have no problem with my players attending these on their own.

That's probably more information than you wanted, but I felt obligated to explain my position more clearly.
Sure, that makes more sense--the way I imagined it was if your players went to, say, ACF Fall under a name other than Brindlee Mountain.* Obviously, if they played under the school name and your school district has some policy regarding liability while using the school name, I understand your concerns. I apologize if you thought I was implying anything untoward regarding your position.

*I assume this is also how everyone else is advising Jacob to go about avoiding his coach's interference in competing in tournaments.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:15 pm

I've played under aliases before, and I might have to again before the year is out. "Liability" is a dirty word to quizbowl players who want to play as much as possible.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by quizbowllee » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:05 pm

Inkana7 wrote:I've played under aliases before, and I might have to again before the year is out. "Liability" is a dirty word to quizbowl players who want to play as much as possible.
Fortunately, I don't think it's an issue with my players. We play nearly every weekend. If anything, they probably need a break. I can count at least 21 tournaments that we've attended this school year. Only about four of those were middle school tournaments. We also had two all-day practice sessions with Northeast Alabama CC. I'm pretty sure my players' quiz bowl needs are being filled.

I would like to take them to ACF Fall or Winter next year, but there is usually a high school-level event on the same weekends that are more convenient.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Cheynem » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:18 pm

As a quizbowl player, I recognize that it's important to play good quizbowl and I would not want to deny students the opportunity to do this. As an educator, I am aware that there are any numbers of annoying red tape and liabilities that have very real ramifications for one's career. Thus, I would urge any quizbowl players in such a situation to carefully think through the ramifications and consequences of one's actions and whenever possible, try to work out a compromise with one's coach.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Geringer » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:44 pm

A real key here is not to do anything rash. Talk to your coach about it. Be nice and polite. Nick was very successful in creating a team independent of his coach, and another fellow named Dan Donohue has done the same thing in Illinois, but you're a sophomore. Most of these "independent teams" have occurred during senior year. You most likely have two full years left of school, and while that's plenty of time to "work on" your coach and his opinions, that's also two years that could be pretty miserable for you if things go poorly.

If you get the rest of your team to go along with it and travel to a tournament or two, that's cool. Have an open discussion with your coach, but remember that he has the authority to either take you to these tournaments or to keep force-feeding you OAC. Rogue teams work, but I feel like they're often far more trouble to manage than if players had just made small compromises. There are cases where there can be no compromise, but given the recent upswing of good quizbowl in your state, I feel like you've got a fighting chance to make this work. Work on getting a single pyramidal tournament added to your schedule early in the year. At the very worst, you play one tournament and get to play rogue the rest of the way. Alternatively, you could actually win your coach over. Your pocketbook will thank you.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by kayli » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:12 pm

If you can find a good pyramidal quizbowl tournament nearby to go to, I think you should ask your coach if you could go to that tournament if only just to try it. If he sees you guys are having fun and are learning a lot, then that at least plants the seeds of change within your coach.
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Huang » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:14 am

Two possible choices:
1) Be "polite" and "nice" (in other words be passive) and lose out on numerous opportunities real quizbowl has to offer. Based on your description of your coach, I doubt his mentality will change before you graduate. The window of opportunity will start closing once your sophomore year ends.
2) Be bluntly truthful about your dislike of OAC while also getting decent enough at real quizbowl to win a few tournaments (or at least do pretty well). Presenting real quizbowl as a better and more fulfilling alternative to fake quizbowl will at least give you a strong argument against not going to pyramidal tournaments.

Obviously, no one can evaluate your situation better than you can. If your coach is the type who is unwilling to actually listen to students, then there's not much you can do within that team. Starting a new team with a different sponsor would probably be the best alternative (and I think Ian Eppler did this at GDS?).
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by ieppler » Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:03 am

Huang wrote: Starting a new team with a different sponsor would probably be the best alternative (and I think Ian Eppler did this at GDS?).
This is a relatively accurate description of what transpired at GDS, but what you're suggesting is easier said than done. There were a whole bunch of factors unique to both GDS and my particular situation that would make my process a difficult one to mirror. For a variety of reasons, I shouldn't reveal the whole narrative on the boards; OP (or anyone else in the same boat), if you'd like me to tell you what I did and how I did it, e-mail me (ian_eppler AT brown.edu).
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Re: Uncooperative coach

Post by Dan-Don » Sat May 01, 2010 5:21 pm

Well with my situation, I had initially planned to just put up with the bad coaching and bad tournaments and then get myself out to good tournaments when I could (like I've been doing). The reasons I separated myself entirely from my team had to do much more to do with my administration than with my coach. My advice is that you play rogue but don't quit. I won't say more on HSQB, but feel free to email me if you wanna hear the whole story or ask questions about what the hobo lifestyle is like.
Dan Donohue, Saint Viator ('10), Northwestern ('14), NAQT

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