(Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

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(Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby kdoss61 » Thu May 14, 2015 12:21 am

Hello, I am Krystian Doss (My stats). I am currently a high school senior, and I will be attending the University of South Alabama in the fall. I am looking to reboot USA's quizbowl program, which has been dormant since the late 1990's (USA's stats). I'd like to ask if there are any players in the Mobile/North Florida area attending USA in the fall who are interested in playing quizbowl, please email me at kdoss61@gmail.com. If there are any coaches in the area who would like to provide our team some advice and guidance, please email me as well.

On USA's New Student Organization page, the site requires that the organization contain at least 10 members. From your past experiences, how hard is it to recruit 10 members? Also, how hard is it to retain 10 members?

I've heard that ACF tournaments typically give some leeway for new teams in regards to packet submission. Since we are not a technically new team, would this still apply? On a similar note, how hard is it to get 10 people to write decent quality pyramidal questions? I fear that I would have to essentially hold a question-writing seminar...
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Thu May 14, 2015 11:35 pm

Hi Krystian, moderated for you all and I talked with you briefly at SSNCT. Good luck starting a team!

In my experience in college quizbowl, the minimum membership requirement wasn't rigidly enforced. Basically, we counted anyone who attended our meetings as a member of the team. We usually only have about 5 or so core members, but there are usually another 5 or so "friends of the team" who occasionally show up to practice, team social events, etc., and we certainly count them as "members" for school purposes.

As far as recruiting goes, I've always found that getting 10ish people to show up isn't too hard if you advertise free food (pizza, subs, whatever). I would guess, however, that most college quizbowl teams retain fewer than 10 core, regularly active members of the team. But like I said, we define "member" broadly and count more casual, peripheral members as well. If the 10 member rule at USA is enforced such that it becomes a hinderance to your ability to function as an organization, be sure to talk to an adult (i.e. not a member of student government but a paid professional who oversees student organizations) and let them know your situation. Persistence is key.

Without speaking for ACF, I think you all would certainly count as a new team. If USA hasn't had anything going on since the late 90s, your slate should be clean as far as packets go. I would certainly encourage attempting question writing for your team at some point soon in the year because it is about the most important thing in quizbowl and you all will have to do it eventually. Don't be intimidated by writing; just learn it by doing it.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby Cody » Fri May 15, 2015 8:04 am

kdoss61 wrote:I've heard that ACF tournaments typically give some leeway for new teams in regards to packet submission. Since we are not a technically new team, would this still apply? On a similar note, how hard is it to get 10 people to write decent quality pyramidal questions? I fear that I would have to essentially hold a question-writing seminar...
You're only required to submit packets to ACF or packet sub events if a member of your team played their first college tournament >2 years ago (school year-wise). i.e. if no one on your team for 2015-16 played a college tournament before September 1, 2014, you won't have to submit any packets.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby bradleykirksey » Sat May 16, 2015 8:45 pm

Hello Krystian!

It's been five or six years since I considered applying to USA, but if I remember right, y'all have a fairly active honors college, right? When we had to reboot the UCF team, we went from 3 to 15 literally overnight when the dean of our honors college allowed us to use the honors college's mailing list and send out a message about an informational meeting. We read through some high school packets and invited everyone to do bar trivia that night. The only people who were interested in the email were the sort who enjoyed that and everyone who went to that meeting played at least one SCT for us. Keep it fun, keep it active, keep it social, and get people to tournaments and the retention thing isn't too hard. But just in case it is, it's better to get their student IDs earlier than later. Normally if they check in on that sort of thing, it'll be at the beginning or end of the semester and if you happen to drop below 10 in the middle, that's not so damaging.

Speaking of getting people to tournaments early, Chris Borglum (memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=415) runs a tournament every year geared for CC kids and newcomers. It is a community college tournament, but he's allowed teams like Mercer or us to play before and it's close to ideal for people who've never played quiz bowl before. I know Orlando is quite the trek, but it's really worth it I think. I really doubt we'd still have a program today without all of his help and If you PM him, I'm sure he's got at least a lot of advice on how to recruit and get newcomers good enough to compete.

I'm still around in the southeast. PM me if y'all need help with anything. Best of luck!
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Mon May 18, 2015 1:58 am

You aren't terribly far from many places that usually host college tournaments. UL Lafayette will try to host 2-3 more tournaments next year (shameless plug), including MUT as it seems to be becoming a tradition for us to do so. Alabama isn't too far - the number of college tournaments they host has fallen off recently but that's not an indicator of the future so they may host a couple of things as well. In a typical year, Tulane will host at least one college event as well (Delta Burke and MUT have been hosted there recently if I recall). LSU is trying to get their club going as well so they may host something. Georgia Tech also hosts something just about every year (although the quantity of things being hosted has decreased due to high building reservation fees). UGA hasn't really been hosting anything recently but they are also a strong candidate to do so. The quizbowl club at Auburn existed for a couple of years but they haven't been seen in a while.

Finding 10 members for your organization is useful for establishing official ties with your university. It's not necessary to have 10 official members to actually compete in things, however. If you guys have some source of money you're more than welcome to come play anywhere in the South.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby kdoss61 » Mon May 18, 2015 5:08 pm

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Finding 10 members for your organization is useful for establishing official ties with your university. It's not necessary to have 10 official members to actually compete in things, however. If you guys have some source of money you're more than welcome to come play anywhere in the South.

This brings me to another question that I have. From your experience, does the university normally provide any funding for tournaments, or does most of the money come from the members? What are some fundraisers that bring in a fair amount of money?
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby Important Bird Area » Mon May 18, 2015 5:30 pm

This varies widely from university to university. Hosting a high school or middle school tournament is usually a good fundraiser.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby bradleykirksey » Tue May 19, 2015 9:07 pm

Different schools do different things and it'll depend on your SGA and college. Normally schools who go through SGAs tend to get about one tournaments worth of funding (in my limited experience talking about this) and tend to be frustrated a lot. Schools with more institutional funding (in our first year, we got our bills largely paid for by the Honors College except for ICT, Valencia CC is funded by the school largely, and GCSC actually gets scholarships and lunches paid for from the school) tend to do a lot better. I don't know how your school does this, but if you could get a meeting or even an email from the college of science or college of communication or honors college at your school, it's worth checking out, right? One team in the south east with strong institutional support allegedly got something stupid like $15,000 one year that UCF got $1,200.

With that said, a lot of groups obviously want funding, and if y'all happen to not be the chosen ones, as Jeff said hosting tournaments is a great way to get money. There's a lot of high school and community college teams in your area, especially CC, and hosting a slightly softer tournament aimed for those groups might be a good way to meet people, make friends, and get some money together for SCT.

But yes, most likely, you should bank on spending at least a little money out of pocket for all of this.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby kdoss61 » Fri May 22, 2015 5:06 pm

Cody wrote:You're only required to submit packets to ACF or packet sub events if a member of your team played their first college tournament >2 years ago (school year-wise). i.e. if no one on your team for 2015-16 played a college tournament before September 1, 2014, you won't have to submit any packets.

That worries me a little. This year, I played with my local community college (I take dual enrollment, so I met eligibility requirements) at the Alabama Sectional Tournament (stats). Would this affect our team?
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Fri May 22, 2015 9:34 pm

kdoss61 wrote:
Cody wrote:You're only required to submit packets to ACF or packet sub events if a member of your team played their first college tournament >2 years ago (school year-wise). i.e. if no one on your team for 2015-16 played a college tournament before September 1, 2014, you won't have to submit any packets.

That worries me a little. This year, I played with my local community college (I take dual enrollment, so I met eligibility requirements) at the Alabama Sectional Tournament (stats). Would this affect our team?

You're still eligible to play for D2 awards in all competitions that have D2 labels - SCT and Regionals being the two major ones. This doesn't affect your D2 eligibility as far as SCT is concerned. As far as packet writing goes, you will have to start writing questions for packet submission tournaments a year sooner than you would have otherwise. This is not a bad thing per se (in fact, writing questions is a really good thing!) but it's something you should be aware of. A few tournaments per year require packet submissions - Fall and Regionals being the two main ones, plus a couple of other regular difficulty tournaments per year.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby kdoss61 » Sun May 24, 2015 9:44 pm

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:
kdoss61 wrote:
Cody wrote:You're only required to submit packets to ACF or packet sub events if a member of your team played their first college tournament >2 years ago (school year-wise). i.e. if no one on your team for 2015-16 played a college tournament before September 1, 2014, you won't have to submit any packets.

That worries me a little. This year, I played with my local community college (I take dual enrollment, so I met eligibility requirements) at the Alabama Sectional Tournament (stats). Would this affect our team?

You're still eligible to play for D2 awards in all competitions that have D2 labels - SCT and Regionals being the two major ones. This doesn't affect your D2 eligibility as far as SCT is concerned. As far as packet writing goes, you will have to start writing questions for packet submission tournaments a year sooner than you would have otherwise. This is not a bad thing per se (in fact, writing questions is a really good thing!) but it's something you should be aware of. A few tournaments per year require packet submissions - Fall and Regionals being the two main ones, plus a couple of other regular difficulty tournaments per year.

The fact that I have to write questions doesn't worry me too much. What does worry me, though, would be other members who are inexperienced with writing questions, even more so with people who are new to quiz bowl in general. How should I go about teaching the art of question writing to others for packet sub tournaments? Or will I have to write a whole packet myself (at least for the first year)?
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby Mnemosyne » Sun May 24, 2015 11:32 pm

kdoss61 wrote:The fact that I have to write questions doesn't worry me too much. What does worry me, though, would be other members who are inexperienced with writing questions, even more so with people who are new to quiz bowl in general. How should I go about teaching the art of question writing to others for packet sub tournaments? Or will I have to write a whole packet myself (at least for the first year)?



I started a team at Louisiana Tech two years ago, so I've been going through a lot of this stuff the last few years at a roughly similar school (public school in the south that isn't even the state flagship). If I'm thinking correctly, you still won't have to write any packets this upcoming year. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think you should take advantage of not having to write packets this year. You want to spend your first year getting people to come to practice, having fun, building a club identity, etc. Assigning people to write questions early on is a good way to hurt retention. Start off playing collegiate novice questions and eventually work your way up to where you're bouncing around between ACF Fall and MUT-level questions, going up to Regionals only if it won't make everyone miserable. If it gets too difficult for everyone, just scale back the difficulty some. Don't put a lot of pressure on people to study, travel to tournaments too far above their level, compete, etc. You want everyone to have fun and become friends. Focus on the social aspect, and once that gets going, most of the other stuff will fall into place. I'll give a brief summary of how the last two years went for us: At our first ever quiz bowl meeting, I made the mistake of telling people that if they wanted to study, I'd give them some material to look at. A lot of them thought they wanted to study, saw what I gave them, and quit, leaving us with only like 3-5 members the entire year. (Take note that the 10 member requirement is not strictly enforced, I got random friends and relatives to give me student ID numbers to fill in the form - definitely not a big deal) This year I didn't make those mistakes, and we gained about ten active members and retained most of them throughout the entire year. This year we had our B team travel 5 hours, stay in a hotel, and put up a good bit of their own money to go 0-10 at DII SCT, which they gladly did because they're all friends and had fun. We had multiple other instances of people who just aren't that good making sacrifices to come travel and play with us, scoring very low PPG. We wrote an optional ACF Regionals packet to practice for next year when we start being packet eligible, I wrote like 12/12 of the packet and divided the rest among the other 3 players, and none of my teammates' questions (not even any of their answer line ideas, much less actual question text) made it into the final compiled packet. So, yeah, it can be hard to get people to write good questions. It's also hard to get people to devote any actual time to improving.

If you get to school and there are tons of talented, motivated, ambitious quiz bowl players who want to write questions, study super hard, etc. then go for it, but in my experience a lot (i.e. all) of college students put their course work before their quiz bowl work, and when you don't have super talented top-tier students, it's tough to expect people to do both.

Regarding money:

We pay a lot of money out of pocket to go to tournaments. Generally, $20-$40 per player for every single tournament. This is mainly because we have to stay in a hotel to go any tournament not hosted by ULL, which runs up the price a lot. We can get a little funding from SGA. We hosted a high school tournament both years, which helps a lot, but can be difficult to do when you have an inexperience team. We got a lot of flack both years for having weak moderators, because we don't really have a strong moderating volunteer pool in the region at all. I don't think that will be as much of a problem in Alabama, though.

It looks like Mobile is a reasonable distance from New Orleans, Lafayette, Ruston, and Tuscaloosa, so hopefully we'll see you around the circuit some next year.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby kdoss61 » Mon May 25, 2015 10:33 pm

Since I'm new to the collegiate circuit, could someone give me an idea of what tournaments are around this area, approximately when they are, which ones are packet subs, and roughly how much each one costs?
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Tue May 26, 2015 2:57 am

kdoss61 wrote:Since I'm new to the collegiate circuit, could someone give me an idea of what tournaments are around this area, approximately when they are, which ones are packet subs, and roughly how much each one costs?

ACF Fall and Regionals are always packet submission tournaments. Fall is typically held on the first weekend of November and Regionals is now held sometime at the end of January now that it's a qualification tournament for Nationals. Other packet submission tournaments faze in and out of existence from year to year so it's hard to predict when they'll be at this time of year. In most years, there are a lot of non-packet submission events. Delta Burke is an easy event that doesn't require packet submission for instance. It typically has a mirror in the region although I think the main event in Orlando is the closest mirror that was had this year. There are usually several other non-packet submission events throughout the year as well, Penn Bowl (October/November) and the undergrad-only MUT (Spring) being the most notable ones as of late.

Tournaments tend to cost around $100 plus the usual discounts and are held throughout the school year (and sometimes during the summer).
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby Roderick, the Last of the Goffs » Tue May 26, 2015 5:30 pm

You can also use the site's tournament database to look for past events and watch for upcoming tournaments.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Wed May 27, 2015 8:23 am

It should be noted that a lot of events have deep discounts for new teams. For example, last year's ACF Fall had the following:

Fees:

Base fee: $120 for one team from a school, $240 for two teams from a school, etc.
Buzzer systems*: -$5 each
Staffers: -$10 each No maximum.
Laptop: -$5 each Maximum 1 per team.
Travel: -$10 per 200 miles traveled one way
International**: -$20
New to ACF teams***: -$25
New quizbowl teams****: -$75

Basically, unless I'm misreading something, you all would get at a minimum the discount for being new to ACF and being new to quizbowl ($100). So you'd be looking at paying about $20 maximum for ACF Fall barring packet submission penalties. ACF Regionals had the same discounts as well, and NAQT gives something like a $20 discount for new teams. You should have about 2 or 3 tournaments with pretty minimal fees for being a new team.
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Re: (Re)Starting a team at the University of South Alabama

Postby tktennis » Thu May 28, 2015 9:27 pm

bird bird bird bird bird wrote:This varies widely from university to university. Hosting a high school or middle school tournament is usually a good fundraiser.


If this means anything, we would be SUPER interested in a high school tournament, as would all the teams in the area who are always looking for opportunities to play!

Also, a great revenue builder would be to get USA to host the middle school Gulf Coast Academic Challenge SuperTournament again!! It got all the top players of the area involved in the quiz bowl scene, and it always ends up begging for sponsors, every year. It would make money and contribute to the community.
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