How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

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How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby nightreign » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:39 pm

Hey! I'm pretty new to this board - a little bit of background: I did a program called Knowledge Bowl in elementary school and I LOVED it. After that, though, none of the schools I went to had teams. I've gotten pretty involved in the trivia community lately and I've been thinking of starting a team at my school. (I'm going to be a junior next year.) My school is pretty small - about 400 people in the high school. We don't have too many extracurricular options, and I'm wondering whether it would be hard to get a team started.

I've read the instructions on the NAQT website but what I'm really wondering is how much work would be involved. What would I have to do to get my school involved with this? I don't think my parents really have time to coach, so how would we manage to secure a coach? I'm thinking of surveying my class for interest, but how would I get other people on board with this? I don't really want to do this singlehandedly. I'm in Michigan, if that helps.

(By the way, I'm sorry if this is incoherent or has been asked a million times before. Feel free to put me in my place.)
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby Big Y » Tue Jun 02, 2015 9:34 pm

I would start by talking to a teacher or administrator you know at your school. The process of starting a club/team at a school varies a lot from school to school, but it's generally much easier if there is an adult in the building you are working with. The person you talk to doesn't have to become your coach, but they should at least be able to tell you who to talk to and what kinds of things they want to know.

If that doesn't work, we can talk about other approaches.
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby tktennis » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:24 pm

My school has about 250 members of its high school (liberally estimating), and I have been very involved in a few of our academic teams. I captain our quiz bowl team and started up our debate team, and I've found a few things really help getting members on board.

1. School absences! - While searching for people to fill teams and get involved, one of the most obvious selling points for us is that, if you come get on board with us, we have a league that meets one Thursday every month, and approx. five tournaments that also miss school days. This is a lot of appeal, especially for getting people in the door. While our team definitely isn't as intense as a LASA or the like, what we've been able to do is get most of the smartest people at our school to come play in real competition for a day. We've hooked a few of them, and now we have a solid top 4 who are committed to improvement. (SIDENOTE - Our league always has donuts and juices and the like when you walk in the door, and we go out for a meal or ice cream after we compete. This also helps. We're as much a social nerd haven as an academic team, especially for B, C teams.)

2. GET THE COLLEGE COUNSELOR ON BOARD - I cannot stress this enough. We've been lucky enough to have a sage of a college counselor coach our team ever since I started on the middle school program in 6th grade. She makes our campus go around, and, while many times teachers are booked helping in other things, the counselor wants an excuse to meet with the top students and learn more about them, and an academic group like quizbowl is a great place to do this. (Our coach originally got involved at another school when a student convinced her to get involved, you could do the same.) However, that's not all that s/he brings to the table. Another reason our team has become so popular over the years is that people will do ANYTHING to get in her good graces (college admin needs all the help you can get coming from southern Alabama) and so this works as a nice motivation/blackmail to get the top students to come try it out. Two of our A team joined the team only because our counselor had a bad impression of them and they wanted to prove her wrong. And they became integral parts of our program. And, another added perk, s/he sees all the work that you put into this, and that makes him/her look favorably upon you, which is also pretty awesome.

3. Have an approachable, steady practice session - We always work for one hour as a team on Thursday mornings. We bring the buzzers out (A team gets there early to set up and mingle), and have a very fun and casual practice. We break open trash packets sometimes, we stop to laugh and poke fun a lot, and generally just have fun with it. If your practices are fun, then your team will have fun and keep coming back. It's not necessarily about improvement in practices, its about getting the team to stick around.

4. Find a local league or tournament - your state program should do a lot to help this, I'm not sure what Michigan's sites are though.

5. Don't stress about your team - As the team leader in a new team, you'll probably feel like I do sometimes in a rapidly-improving team. Sometimes you're gonna feel like you're playing alone against an entire team, and that's totally okay. Don't push people harder than they can be pushed, and focus on simply having fun, especially your first year. Find a good solid group that will have fun together, and bring people on who you work well with, because that's really the key to a whole team. (My A team is legit just me, my girlfriend, and two of my best friends. I'm positive that having a good rapport with your players makes your team better as well as more fun.)

Anywho, hope it works out! Feel free to PM me if you're having any trouble, or if you need a study buddy!! I get lonely doing it on my own :P
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:37 pm

One worthwhile piece of information which might help folks here answer this question, if you're willing to share, is where your high school is located -- there are many people on these boards who are active in organizing local, regional, and state circuits, and knowing which specific existing tournaments and organizations you're near will help those people communicate with you about where to get your bearings in your area.
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby nightreign » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:56 pm

Matthew J wrote:One worthwhile piece of information which might help folks here answer this question, if you're willing to share, is where your high school is located -- there are many people on these boards who are active in organizing local, regional, and state circuits, and knowing which specific existing tournaments and organizations you're near will help those people communicate with you about where to get your bearings in your area.


City High School, Grand Rapids, MI (I noticed my school is listed on the NAQT website, but with a teacher who doesn't teach there anymore, and hasn't as long as I've been there. It appears they haven't had a team for almost 15 years.)
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby at your pleasure » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:04 pm

Matthew J wrote:One worthwhile piece of information which might help folks here answer this question, if you're willing to share, is where your high school is located -- there are many people on these boards who are active in organizing local, regional, and state circuits, and knowing which specific existing tournaments and organizations you're near will help those people communicate with you about where to get your bearings in your area.


Erm, OP says they are in Michigan. There are a decent number of people from Michigan and nearby states on the boards that I assume would be good to contact.
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby Important Bird Area » Mon Jun 08, 2015 12:07 pm

nightreign wrote:
Matthew J wrote:One worthwhile piece of information which might help folks here answer this question, if you're willing to share, is where your high school is located -- there are many people on these boards who are active in organizing local, regional, and state circuits, and knowing which specific existing tournaments and organizations you're near will help those people communicate with you about where to get your bearings in your area.


City High School, Grand Rapids, MI (I noticed my school is listed on the NAQT website, but with a teacher who doesn't teach there anymore, and hasn't as long as I've been there. It appears they haven't had a team for almost 15 years.)


Welcome to the forums! I played against Grand Rapids City the first year of my quizbowl career (spring 1995).

I've updated the contact information on naqt.com for Grand Rapids City; let us know if you have any questions about how to get started.
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby nightreign » Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:12 pm

I like the advice of talking to a teacher. The main issue is that school is currently out for the summer. I could use email, although I don't know if the teachers check their school emails during the summer. However, I did draft one. Would it be better to send it now and see if there's preliminary interest from the teachers, or should I wait until school starts back up again and ask them personally? I did a quick interest survey on my class's Facebook group and got 4 kids that are definitely interested and a few others that maybe are - that's just incoming juniors, so there's probably more freshmen, sophomores, and seniors that are also interested.
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby Big Y » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:16 am

I don't think you lose anything by sending it now. There's a decent chance that you won't get a reply or that the reply will be that it's something to talk about when the school year ends, but that's OK. You're not going to get somebody mad at you by sending one email.
David Reinstein
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby dhumphreys17 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:59 pm

I don't know if this helps, but we're going through a coaching transition right now, and what I've found is that the first one or two weeks of school are prime time for administrative matters of this sort (getting a teacher to come on board). I think this could be applied to your current situation; if you can use the first two weeks or so to put in the time and effort of searching for a good teacher to be your coach, then you will still have ample practice time. On a side note, I would hope to see more representation from Grand Rapids in the Michigan circuit. I wish you the best of luck.
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby Joshua Rutsky » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:30 pm

I completely agree. You should go ahead and send the letter, especially given that for many of us, the summer is the time when we are not overwhelmed with paperwork. Letting the teacher know up front that you are interested AND OFFERING TO HELP WITH RECRUITING so you have seven or eight kids right out of the gate is a great thing.
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Re: How hard would it be to start a team at my high school?

Postby nightreign » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:41 am

Update on my situation:

I identified ~10 teachers at my school who might be interested and sent off emails to them. I offered to help with recruiting, acquiring materials, and running practices, and I outlined the minimum of what they would need to do. I attached links to this website and naqt.com for more information. I haven't received any replies yet, and as I mentioned, I'm not sure if I will until school starts back up, but I figured there was no harm in sending them now.

Now, we wait.
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