Starting a College Team

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Ondes Martenot
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Starting a College Team

Post by Ondes Martenot »

For those who don't know me, my name is Aaron Cohen, a senior at the Bergen County Academies. For three years I've been an active member of my high school's quizbowl team and would like to continue playing in college. In the fall I will be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which is located in Troy, NY, right near Albany. I would like to start a team hopefully in my first years but honestly have no idea what this actually entails. Specifically, I am clueless on things like starting up a team, recruiting members, the logistics of getting to a tournament, financial issues, and many other things I've probably forgotten. If you can give me any kind of tips it would be much appreciated.
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Irreligion in Bangladesh
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

First step - talk to your school's activities board/student life organization, whatever they call it -- the people that run the clubs. Get the information from them about how to start a club, and start the paperwork early.
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Matt Weiner
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by Matt Weiner »

Obviously you need to go through whatever the process for having a club at your school is, but the next step is crucial:

Go to tournaments. Do whatever you have to do to go to every real tournament held in your area (ie, every academic tournament held on collegiate questions within 300 miles, and the closest sites for all NAQT and ACF tournaments, wherever they may be). People get strange ideas about practicing for some length of time or running tournaments first or building up a team of a certain size, and those of course should be goals and are great if you can do them sooner rather than later, but if history has shown one thing, it's that a team that doesn't play tournaments soon is not a team at all.
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Ondes Martenot
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by Ondes Martenot »

Where are ACF falls taking place?
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The Logic of Scientific Disco
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by The Logic of Scientific Disco »

Aaron--good to see someone else from BCA is finally going be a regular on the college circuit. A quick glance at a map makes it look like you wouldn't have too much trouble getting to Boston for tournaments, which is pretty great, since we have one of the highest densities of real, good collegiate tournaments in the country.

If you can get enough interest together in time, you should try to make it to EFT at Brown in early October--aside from ACF Fall, it's the best novice-level tournament around, and in the past has drawn a rather large field. Even if you don't have an official team together by then, I'm sure you can work something out with Eric and co. to let you play as "RPI" or something.
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by AKKOLADE »

Matt Weiner wrote:Obviously you need to go through whatever the process for having a club at your school is, but the next step is crucial:

Go to tournaments. Do whatever you have to do to go to every real tournament held in your area (ie, every academic tournament held on collegiate questions within 300 miles, and the closest sites for all NAQT and ACF tournaments, wherever they may be). People get strange ideas about practicing for some length of time or running tournaments first or building up a team of a certain size, and those of course should be goals and are great if you can do them sooner rather than later, but if history has shown one thing, it's that a team that doesn't play tournaments soon is not a team at all.
As someone who attempted to go the other route with this advice while starting a team, let me tell you this: if you do not listen to Matt here, prepare to waste hours of work while accomplishing less than nothing.
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Ondes Martenot
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by Ondes Martenot »

Yeah...trust me. I would like to go tournaments as soon as I form a team (such as this EFT tournament that Chris mentioned). I honestly don't care if we suck initially. And I'll repeat my previous question: where will the ACF falls be held? I checked the ACF site but they don't mention it anywhere.
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by cchiego »

Definitely take a look at what your school's policies for student organizations are. There's a decent bit of paperwork to go through and sometimes you have to have a certain number of people interested in order to register it.

Finances: One of the things you'll need to figure out early on is the finances; can you get funding from the school? If so, are there strings attached (only a certain amount, must have invoices, etc.)? Do you want a school account or an outside bank account? Do you want to hold a high school tournament? Is there a market for one at your location? What about a college tournament? This is the kind of stuff you can work to figure out over the summer before school starts. Definitely try to get in touch with a student activities coordinator to help guide you through starting things up. You'll also probably need a faculty sponsor of some kind.

Recruiting: Once school begins, you'll need to recruit. Putting up fliers is the basic bread-and-butter, as is simply word of mouth- ask around to see who did quizbowl in high school and see which people are the most eager to do bar trivial. Also see if there's a student activity fair you can have a booth at. A more complicated alternative is an intramural tournament, which unless you can enlist the aid of a current student org. might be difficult to organize. Was there a CBI team there once that might have some remnant of people around? You may attract a lot of people at first or you might have difficulty finding anyone else to play with, but all that matters is finding a good 3-4 person core who is willing to write questions and go to tournaments. Like Matt said, go to tournaments. A successful quizbowl team usually has pretty good team chemistry, which often comes from getting to go on roadtrips and competing in tournaments together. New players too can especially benefit from tournaments, whether in motivating them to learn more or gaining confidence that they knew more than they thought. Attrition definitely happens, as people have other commitments, don't want to put the time in, etc., so don't worry about losing some people. Just make sure you have a core group of people dedicated to making the team better and are available often enough to go to tournaments.

Competing in Tournaments: Getting to tournaments takes a bit of planning- it's helpful to have an officer solely in charge of these kinds of logistics and making reservations. I can usually find some pretty good hotel deals online, but you can risk it and find some cheap dives off the interstate too. Usually the tournament director can provide you with a list of possible nearby options too. If the tournament is a substantial distance away (3+ hours), I'd recommend you drive up the night before (the Friday usually) and spend the night nearby and then try to get back that night if it's not insanely far away. Budget plenty of time for getting lost on campus and finding parking too. Ideally one of the team members will have a car or you can probably borrow one (albeit likely after paperwork and driver training) from the university. Spend time en route practicing questions of a similar level to the tournament you're attending and don't be afraid to stop off at a local museum or something if you have the time.

Hardware: Buzzer systems aren't cheap, but hopefully there's one on campus masquerading for some other purpose that you can use (CBI remnant perhaps?) or you might be able to get a one-time grant to finance one. Practice questions are thankfully plentiful for mACF events but NAQT ones are relatively rare, though I think NAQT has a deal for new teams too to help them get started. Other than that, there's not too much hardware involved- just get people to show up to practice and tournaments.

Final Thoughts: Run a tight ship financially- don't splurge/let other people splurge on things like "team dinners." Be frugal until you're sure you have a solid foundation and reliable revenue sources since you can't necessarily trust say a campus activities fee allocation to remain the same year in and year out. Keep seeking out new revenue sources (President's Venture Fund, Honors College, Student Govt Association, etc.) on campus as well as in the quizbowl realm (HS tournaments, mirroring tournaments, writing questions, etc.) There's plenty of other literature out there about how to run tournaments, so take a look at that well in advance of announcing anything. If in doubt, ask for advice from other college quizbowl teams, other student organizations, or nearby high school coaches, depending on the problem. Try to create an organization that will outlast your time on campus and isn't dependent on just one person to hold everything together.
Last edited by cchiego on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by Matt Weiner »

aarcoh wrote:Yeah...trust me. I would like to go tournaments as soon as I form a team (such as this EFT tournament that Chris mentioned). I honestly don't care if we suck initially. And I'll repeat my previous question: where will the ACF falls be held? I checked the ACF site but they don't mention it anywhere.
ACF Fall chief editor Andrew Hart is going to start taking bids from potential hosts soon. Based on past precedent, you can expect an announcement of the hosts sometime in August, and you can also expect that there will be a host in the Boston area. There may also be one in New Jersey, though that's not the case every year and it depends on who bids.
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

ChrisK.MIT wrote:If you can get enough interest together in time, you should try to make it to EFT at Brown in early October--aside from ACF Fall, it's the best novice-level tournament around, and in the past has drawn a rather large field. Even if you don't have an official team together by then, I'm sure you can work something out with Eric and co. to let you play as "RPI" or something.
You can play as "The Chris Kennedy's Friend Experience" for all I care. If you don't have a team together by EFT, contact either me (InfiniteStryker0 [at] gmail) or Dennis Jang (Dennis [underscore] Jang [at] brown [dot] edu), and we'll see about getting you a solo discount or something.
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by grapesmoker »

Seconding what Eric said. We'd love to see you at EFT and any other New England tournament, and we can talk about discounts if finances are a problem. Also, keep a lookout for a Columbia tournament, which might happen in the fall.
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by Lukey's Boat »

I am glad to hear that someone else is trying to start up a team in college; I'm going to Michigan Tech, where there is tragically no existing team. This thread has been quite helpful - thanks!

I don't suppose any other quiz bowlers are heading up to Houghton this fall...? :wink:
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Re: Starting a College Team

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Yeah, it should be pointed out, in case there are people out there interested - you don't really have to form some sort of team at your school to go to tournaments. If you want to take a shot at forming a team, that's great, and best of luck to you...but, we know that's an uphill battle frought with all kinds of difficulties, especially at smaller or geographically remote schools. However, if you have a car or some way of getting to tournaments (like ACF Fall or EFT, as great examples) - my advice is: just go yourself, or with a friend or whatever. I think just about every tournament director will be happy to give you discounts to play, they'll pair you up with other incomplete teams if you'd like, stuff like that...more likely than not, people will find a way to get you to a tourney if you're interested in coming.

I know this thread is about starting a team, and I don't want to sidetrack that or discourage people from forming teams - but it's not any sort of prerequisite for playing collegiate qb.
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