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Montague quiz bowl team grows ‘bond,’ creates memories in second season

Coach Tyler Frank: ‘It is rewarding to see our students compete in alternate ways from sports.’

While the six members of Montague High School’s quiz bowl team this school year tend to not take the activity too seriously, it is still a nice outlet and way to unleash trivia knowledge that others may find “useless.”

However, like in many other team or group activities, chemistry does make a difference.

Montague junior Ethan Sandoval breaks the quiz bowl team’s chemistry down at a molecular level.

“The chemistry of our team I could define humorously, with bonds,” said Sandoval, who has been a quiz bowl member since his sophomore year, when he moved to Montague from Hart.

“Like atoms in a compound, we each make up a greater part of the team, and without any one of us, the compound is no longer of the same substance. This is true for both the composition of the team during competitions and as friends.”

While Sandoval describes the quiz-bowl bond on a deeper level, on the surface the activity does provide for one more outlet in the school.

Montague was invited to participate in quiz bowl

Montague was invited to create a quiz bowl team last school year, when the West Michigan Conference expanded.

Montague finished in fourth place in the conference this quiz-bowl season, which put the team in the middle of the pack.

Montague’s quiz bowl team this school year was comprised of seniors Richard Kroll, Simon Morse, and Avah Schihl; juniors Sandoval and Ammyn Aten, and freshman Aiden Verbanic.

Tyler Frank, who is in his ninth year at Montague Area Public Schools, is quiz bowl coach. Currently, Frank is wearing many hats: Social studies teacher, theater director, senior class advisor, and National Honor Society advisor.

“We are definitely an underdog when it comes to quiz bowl,” Frank said. “We are joining a conference in a new activity against some schools that have quiz bowl dynasties, like Ludington.”

Photos courtesy of Montague High School

In quiz bowl, a typical match involves several “toss-up” questions that both teams can answer. Whichever team gets the question correct is then allowed to answer three follow-up questions based loosely on the first question’s topic. After several “toss-up” questions, there is a lightning round with rapid-fire questions asked in a period of two minutes.

Four members of a team compete at one time in a quiz bowl competition. Frank said that six quiz bowl team members covered each other’s weaknesses fairly well this season.

“It is rewarding to see our students compete in alternate ways from sports,” Frank said.

In Sandoval’s opinion, the best part about being on a quiz bowl team is easily the opportunity to use and showcase one’s expertise in areas that others have deemed “useless.”

“In many cases, one would not utilize such abilities, such as mine in knowledge of the classical age, on a daily basis,” said Sandoval, who sports a 3.301 GPA. “However, it proves useful frequently throughout the game.”

While Verbanic does not particularly think that being part of the quiz bowl team enhanced his “student-ness” or educational experience at Montague, the 4.0 student did appreciate being able to utilize his knowledge and being able to show his intelligence during competitions.

Meanwhile, for somebody like Morse, quiz bowl helps him from an academic standpoint.

Quiz bowl helps many learn

“I believe that being on the quiz bowl team has encouraged me to study harder on subjects that I didn’t know, as well as I want to,” said Morse, who carries a 3.9 GPA.

“Our quiz bowl team is a competitive group, with general knowledge on most topics. We can get very opinionated at times and you never quite know what topic will start up next, which makes it so much fun. Everyone brings something new to the table. This connects the team members due to their reliance on each other’s knowledge.”

The chemistry that Morse mentions and to which Sandoval alludes is felt by their teammates.

While competitions are enjoyable for the team, the inside jokes tend to lead to stories that are shared years down the road.

“We all get along very well even with the animosity generated when one of us makes a mistake, and the coincidences and things that come up make a lot of fun inside jokes that make no sense to anybody else,” said Montague senior Richard Kroll, who carries a weighted GPA of 4.357 and unweighted GPA of 4.0.

“It brings me closer to the other students that are on the team even outside of quiz bowl activities, such as when I just happen to see them in the hallway,” Kroll added. “It also gets attention from other students when we do well at something, and they show their support.”

Montague senior Avah Schihl views quiz bowl teammates as “very open and funny.”

For Schihl, and many others, quiz bowl is opportunity to showcase random knowledge of niche subjects and “not feel weird about it.”

“We can swing between debating forms of government to making terrible jokes about our social lives within seconds,” Schihl said.

For those who have considered joining the quiz bowl team – and even those who have not given it any thought – Sandoval recommends trying it out.

Montague’s team members not only have inquiring minds, but open minds as well.

“It can be surprising how much any one person knows that they don’t utilize, be it pop culture, politics, or even sports history,” Sandoval said. “Everyone has a subject of knowledge they nerd out to, and in quiz bowl any number of them can prove very useful.”

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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