DeSoto prepares for scholar bowl
DeSoto High scholars bowl coach Jana Lloyd admits she has a competitive nature.
"That's part of my frustration. I'm so competitive," she said. "I always pressure myself more than others. But, I also know it's difficult in the first year. The kids have to get used to me."
This is Lloyd's first year at DeSoto High. The new chemistry and physics teacher replaced Kathy Reddy as the scholars bowl coach when the 17-year veteran gave up the position.
DeSoto High's scholars bowl team faces a challenge greater than adapting to a new coach. Just like the school's athletic teams, it must replace graduating seniors and experienced members who now compete for Mill Valley High.
That doesn't mean the team of Patrick Lattin, Robin Rahardja, Sarah Wright, Jessica Christenberry, Erika Kuster, Penny Teater, Cody Gratny and Jen Thierer is without experience. Team captain Lattin said this is his third year of scholars bowl competition.
"He's the brains of the team," said fellow senior and team member Teater.
Lattin humbly acknowledged he's "pretty good" with fine arts and math questions and has enough experience not to freeze at the buzzer.
Lattin and Teater said the find the activity "fun" and enjoy the competition.
"I think its great they have something you can compete in academically," Teater said.
Scholars bowl competitions consist of round-robin tournaments in which teams are paired against each other. The teams field questions from all academic disciplines.
Teams need to be quick and accurate to be successful. Lloyd said the team practices two times a week. And, just like in athletics, practice pays off.
"We set up a buzzer system with real questions from old tournaments," she said. "The state has a great Web site coaches can use to get recent questions. We've been to a couple of tournaments where kids say 'we've just had that question in practice.'"
The team has competed in four tournaments this year and placed in two of them, Lloyd said.
Scholars bowl has a long season, Lloyd said. Tournaments start in October and continue through the state regional and finals in February, she said. The long season allows each of the team's eight members a chance to compete, she said.
The team plans to build community support in an unusual way.
"We're going to have a community scholars bowl in February," Lloyd said. "Teams from the community will compete. We want to show people what it's all about and how much fun it really is."
Under Reddy's leadership, the DeSoto High scholars bowl team placed in the state finals on several occasions. Lloyd said that tradition will return.
"Eventually, we will get back to state," she said. "Even with the split, our kids are good enough."