At the Jasper campus of Bevill State Community College, this team is furiously practicing for its biggest challenge of the year’a shot at a national title.
EMCEE: In 1801, he was the first person to introduce precision machinery for the mass production of muskets’
STUDENT: Eli Whitney.
EMCEE: That’s right! And that’s early enough to get you a bonus’
This is the Bevill State Scholars Bowl team, and to say that they’re on a winning streak is an understatement. In competitions against other Alabama schools this academic year, the team has racked up 72 straight wins’and no losses. The sponsor of the group is teacher Glenn Allen Bobo’
“You can hear the comments between games, like, ‘Did y’all beat Jasper?’ ‘Naw, they beat us again.'”
If you’ve never been to a Scholars Bowl Tournament, it’s a lot like a spelling bee on steroids. Contestants are hammered with questions from every imaginable field of knowledge’all while the clock is ticking.
“I’m Adam Pinson, military history and some science.”
“I’m Brian Dixon, human anatomy and space history.”
“I’m Mike Cantrell, Bible questions.”
“I’m Eric Williams. My best would be mythology and science fiction.”
“I’m Melinda Noblitt, food questions.”
“I’m Chris Pace, literature and fine arts.”
“I’m Paul Abbott, U.S. history and pop culture.”
The competition is a guesser’s nightmare’if you hit your buzzer early and guess wrong, you get five points deducted from your team’s score. This weekend, Bevill State will take its winning combination to the National Academic Quiz Tournaments in St. Louis. The team has been to the nationals twice before, and brought home third-place and second-place trophies. This year, they’re hoping to bring the top prize back to Jasper.
Adam Pinson: “It does matter how much sleep and rest you get. And some folks are superstitious, like I am. They listen to the same music every night before a tournament, or something like that.”
Brian Dixon: “Just like getting ready for a football game or basketball game, you have those butterflies at the beginning. But once those first few questions are asked, you kind of calm down and get into your zone.”
But being a nationally ranked player in the academic quiz tournament field does have a major downside Namely, nobody will watch ‘Jeopardy’ on TV with you, any more.
Melinda Noblitt: “No, my mother won’t watch it at all, with me.”
Brian Dixon: “My family gets really aggravated because I go off on a tangent, some obscure thing I’ve picked up, and my wife’s like ‘Why do you have to tell me all this stuff?’ It’s just something I’m proud of, I guess. Because it’s not every day you get to be with a group of guys’and a gal’that’s of this caliber, that you can go into battle with.”
Melinda Noblitt: “It’s self-motivation, pure and simple. We do it because we love it.”
Brian Dixon: “We’re our own cheerleaders. We help each other up, and cheer each other on.”
If Scholars Bowl teams did have cheerleaders, they might sound something like this’
Glenn Allen Bobo: “We’re the Scholars Bowl team from Bevill State College; you ain’t gonna beat us when it comes to a test of knowledge!”
Group Cheer: “Bevill State! Bevill State! Bevill State!”
Solo voice: “Jasper! I had to throw the ‘Jasper’ in.”
EMCEE: Your bonus is’name these castles from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’ for 10 points each’