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Rebuilding a Circuit

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:54 pm
by cthewolf
The Massachusetts circuit will lose many seniors this season due to graduation from multiple schools. These seniors represent not only many of the more talented players in our circuits, but in many instances, the primary reason that their school has a quizbowl team. Massachusetts has few teams with coaches, and our circuit is very much led by players. We do have a statewide academic game show, but few teams have participated in the show and then joined quizbowl although the best teams in the show are also very good quizbowl teams.

I just want to hear some ideas about how to curb the troubles of graduation, especially if anyone has been in the same situation.

Of course, I don't know for sure that our circuit is going to take a hit, and I maybe pleasantly surprised to find that younger students have risen to replace the elder states(wo)men of their teams.

Re: Rebuilding a Circuit

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:16 pm
by Thiccasso's Guernthicca
I think it could be worth it to contact the High School Quiz Show folks and ask if you and a couple others can advertise quizbowl, NAQT, local tournaments, and other related things at the Super Sunday tryouts (or even prior to them). While HSQS doesn't make a concerted effort to aid in the spread of good quizbowl, they are very helpful and receptive if you actively get in touch with them and give them opportunities to do so (they advertised several tournaments in the area on their social media after being asked, including ours. They're also definitely aware of good quizbowl – they follow multiple team Twitter accounts and shared my PACE "What is Quizbowl?" interview). If you preemptively sell quizbowl as an excellent way to prep for the show (which, in fairness, it is), then I can see this plan bearing some fruit.

Re: Rebuilding a Circuit

Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:28 pm
by cthewolf
Definitely agree about High School Quiz Show. I reached out to a lot of teams before SPIT I that either did HSQS in recent years or had done quiz bowl at some point in the past. I almost always got the response that they don't have enough interested players to field a team right now but would still like to receive information in the future. I guess our Oct. 27 Novice Tournament will be a perfect opportunity to contact those schools again.

I was more so interested in how we might be able to ensure that programs continue to exist. I really think that this is a problem more specific to quizbowl because almost every school in MA consistently fields a math team and often a Science Olympiad team as well. The level of performance is usually stays in the same tier from year to year as well. Perhaps this is because there is less opportunity to carry in math and science teams and the school and faculty have a bigger role in preparing students.

Does anyone have any ideas about improving sustainability in individual programs and circuits overall?

Re: Rebuilding a Circuit

Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 4:11 pm
by Mobutu Sese Seko
For what it's worth (and of course this is region specific), I'll see if I can reach out to High School Quiz Show RI to promote your Novice Tournament. A more robust RI circuit would benefit Mass too.

As for the more general question, I think a chief difficulty in preserving programs is getting teachers invested. Math Team and Science Olympiad are natural extensions of existing classes; quizbowl... isn't, which makes it a lot harder to get into and a lot harder to sell to teachers. Sure, a devoted core of players who are willing and able to recruit and teach newcomers can make up for that, but most schools just aren't going to be able maintain such a team every single year. If we could sell quizbowl to teachers, the continuity they provide could erase that barrier. I don't know how to motivate teachers more, but I feel like that's especially important in a slower circuit like this.

Re: Rebuilding a Circuit

Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:09 pm
by cthewolf
And I thought our circuit would need rebuilding...

Re: Rebuilding a Circuit

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:49 pm
by jessbowen
I never saw this post when it first appeared but I agree that it would be so helpful to have more consistency here. I really think one of the keys is adult coaches because kids come and go and interest can wax and wane. A committed coach helps smooth out these waves and provided institutional knowledge from year to year. We have worked to build these contacts. I have a file of school and coach contact info that I'm happy to share. We started a New England facebook page and a facebook page just for coaches to help provide support. It can be a tricky world to break into - information is not centralized.

I think networking amongst adults in the sport needs to be better in general. Birds of a feather meetings at nationals or forums just for coaching would be nice. Because so much of the circuits are student-driven, it can be a hard role to feel comfortable with. I have really tried to do a better job at being friendly and welcoming to coaches; I'm not sure if this is bearing fruit yet, but I'll keep trying. When I first started doing this almost 10 years ago, other coaches were rarely friendly towards me; this is slowly improving but more needs to be done.

I know Nick R. from Lexington was talking about creating a New England (or maybe Mass) organization to organize the circuit. I think that's a great idea - I'm not sure how to do it but am willing to be part of it!

If I can be a resource for anyone in the New England area, feel free to reach out. New teams, new coaches, students without coaches, point any of them to me and I'll do what I can to help.