Remembering Academic Bowl

Episode 48 – Thursday, February 25th, 2016 (6995)

015-ASD Academic Bowl Team (04-24-05)
I still remember when I was the one of team members of ASD Academic Bowl after we won Southeast Regional competition and competed for the National tournament in Washington, D.C. way back in 2005. (Photo courtesy from Gallaudet University Archives)

It’s Throwback Thursday, and I just want to go back in my past (from My Tent Archives) to remember the memories that I had before. Recently, I just thought from my mind that Gallaudet University’s Academic Bowl has held its regional competitions this February and March after I researched it on the internet. And it’s just so memorable to me where I was the one of the players of the Academic Bowl way back in 2005 when I was an exchange student in the U.S. So, I just want to share this about my participation in Academic Bowl 11 years ago.

(This is based from one of my unpublished article title “Tent on ASD” that I first wrote in 2009 and modified in 2014.)

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The High School Academic Bowl for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students is an annual competition that started in 1997 and sponsored by Gallaudet University. At the time when I was there at the U.S., there were five Regional Academic Bowls to be competed – Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and West, each with a maximum of 16 teams of high school deaf students, and a National Academic Bowl (held annually in Washington, D.C.), with ten teams which consist of the champions and second-place teams from each of the five regions. The purpose of the Academic Bowl is to foster the pursuit of academic excellence, promote a spirit of academic competition and good sportsmanship, and to encourage social opportunities for collegiality among students.

How I Joined Academic Bowl?

Back in 2004, during my first weeks at Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) as an exchange student, I had neither known nor heard about the contest competing for the knowledge skills at school. Way back at Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) where I studied, I had already joined several “quiz bee” contests such as PSD Day Quiz Bee Contest in 1996 where I and my team won first place, Deaf Awareness Week in 1998 where I and my other teammates from different deaf schools second against non-deaf students, and United Nations Quiz Bee Contest in 2002 where I won first place after I answered all 15 questions correctly. But when I was in ASD, I had no idea what I would do next if ever I joined the mind-skilling contest.

While the Mason-Dixon Volleyball Tournament was held, High School Director Vera Hendrix observed me especially about my potential ability, based on my academic records back in PSD, that I would be possible to join the Academic Bowl class. After talking with my host mother, I almost declined Mrs. Hendrix’s suggestion because I had no idea about the new class that I would be in replace of my Health class on the first subject in the morning. However, eventually I accepted the move. On the second week of October 2004, I first attended the Academic Bowl class with Tiffany Smith (my classmate), Abby Reid (from Junior), and some freshmen such as Jordan Armstrong, Katelyn Clark, Robyn Parker, Jalisa Braxton, and Nicholas Laster. Debbie Cobb and Kaley Oliver were the teachers who coached the students to practice the thrilling questions flashed on the board.

As Academic Bowl Player

At the beginning of the practice, I stepped little by little to press the buzzer to answer some questions that I knew. But in later days I started to motivate my skills when I quickly pressed the buzzer to answer the questions correctly. Mrs. Cobb and Mrs. Oliver impressed me that I could be the one of the team members of ASD Academic Bowl with team captains, Tiffany and Abby, and one freshmen selected by the coaches was Jordan Armstrong. During the practice competition against each other, I answered the questions as many as I could correctly, and my record for responding correct answer was 17. However, I had some ups and downs that I had never heard some questions that I didn’t know. On the Gallaudet Day, Dec. 2, I and other Academic Bowl students battled against the ASD teachers and staffs (most of them are deaf) to answer the questions about the deaf culture and history. My team won the game despite of my lack performance where I answered only once. The coaches observed me that I would give up the Academic Bowl class a day after the game, but I denied to quit the team because I had no any knowledge about American deaf culture and history due of being exchange student from the Philippines.

But despite of this, I continued my motivation in the class besting among his teammates. By the second semester, I officially became the one of the team members of ASD Academic Bowl Team when the team started to compete against the other deaf school, Hawaii School for the Deaf, in the first Academic Bowl electronic match-up. ASD team won twice on the match-up which was about 3,000 miles apart between the both teams just using the internet technology. A week before competing at the regional tournament, the team (except Jordan) beat ASD teachers and staffs which composed by High School Director Vera Hendrix, English teacher Lynn Dunn, and Chemistry teacher Carolyn Jones. After the several practices in the last almost five months, the moment was come for ASD team and for me to be ready to compete against several deaf schools across the southeast region.

Regional Academic Bowl

On February 25-26, 2005, the Southeast Regional Academic Bowl Tournament was held in South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB) in Spartanburg. ASD Academic Bowl Team (I, Abby, Tiffany and Jordan), together with the coaches (Cobb and Oliver), Academic Bowl classmates (except Nicholas Laster) and John Reynolds (as a driver of ASD school bus), went there compete for the southeast regional tournament. We challenged to test our academic skills against 15 teams from different deaf schools around the southeast region (one team was backed-up) to compete. But 7 out of 15 teams were placed in the Buff group while the others were placed in the Blue group, so that they could compete 7 teams in the group.

During the whole tournament, we, ASD Academic Bowl Team, lost only one game against wittier deaf students of North Carolina School for the Deaf (NCSD), but we prevailed to become champions once again after 6 years of drought when we beat South Plantation High School (Florida) for the championship match. But before the championship, the most dramatic and exciting was our winning against the defending champs, Florida School for the Deaf (FSD), in the semi-final match where the latter had been the regional champions for five consecutive years. The smartest students of FSD team were able to score the first 10 points of the match (10-0) before ASD came back with the right answers to surpass them, thanks to my academic and knowledge skills (coined myself as the “import” player of the team from the Philippines), and team captains Abby and Tiffany. ASD had been the southeast champion twice (1998 and 1999) and returned to the finals after beating FSD to have their ticket to compete for the National tournament in Washington, D.C. After the tournament, the team represented ASD being a very proud champion, not only in sports, but also in academics. Abby Reid and Tiffany Smith, the team captains, took their efforts to win a championship as they played for the ASD team for few years within high school. I was really thanked by my teammates and coaches who had my effort to answer correctly from the questions mostly in general knowledge, history and geography. According to team captain, Abby Reid, when she talked me about the tournament two weeks after, I got the most correct answers with 43 in all 9 matches. She got second with 25, Jordan with 21, and Tiffany got only fourth among the team members to answer correctly.

National Competition

Before taking for the National competition, the team had more practices to learn and to study hard for the next tournament because it would be tough for us to compete against nine other deaf schools across the U.S., winning their regional champions and runner-ups, who were more powerful and smarter than those in the regional tournaments. However just days before we would take our flight to the nation’s capital, one of the team members lost an opportunity to compete for the Nationals because of his bad attitude and moral character. Freshmen Jordan was not able to join with me, Tiffany and Abby for ASD Academic Bowl Team to compete for the national tournament. The team felt disappointment for him because he had skills in pop culture category that helped us to take ourscore. And because of the unexpected incident, the team had only three members, but we’re still able to compete for the Nationals despite of Jordan’s absence (the rule for those teams who had only three members were still qualified to compete with their valid reasons).

Going to Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, was more excited for ASD team (especially for me who had been there before when I first arrived in August 2004) than in the regional competition. The Gallaudet University provided the plane tickets and accommodations for the teams competing in the Nationals. Before the tournament, ASD team had their sightseeing to take Metrorail around the city and to explore at the Capitol and Smithsonian Museums. As the excitement came, we met other deaf people from the different parts of the U.S. to socialize and to have bonding before the real competition started. However, because of the absence of one team member and missing the school’s mascot, the Squanto, we lost 8 out of 9 matches by the toughest and smartest teams competed. We only won the entire tournament to The Learning Center of Framingham, Massachusetts by only a point. But despite of misfortunes, we never gave up our team spirit and fun as we were supported, not only their coaches and John Reynolds, but also with my foster parents – Lyn and Danny Woolmaker, Math teacher Kayleen Pugh and school librarian (and my host mom’s friend) Linda Randolph. And because of our efforts and positivity to compete undermanned, we received, for the rarest time, a Sportsmanship Award which made us proud and to represent ASD, even though not winning a national champion, but to show our good moral with other teams.

040-ASD Academic Bowl Team won Sportsmanship Award (04-25-05)
ASD Academic Bowl Team winning Sportsmanship Award during the conclusion of National competition held at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. with then university’s president I King Jordan (left, standing). (Photo courtesy from Gallaudet University Archives)

After the exciting National tournament, we came back ASD with smiles and proud. As the school ended in May 2005, the two seniors bid goodbye for the final year as a team. Team captain, Tiffany Smith and I, who made our efforts during regional and national tournaments, left ASD Academic Bowl Team as a true champion before we would be graduated. Coach Kaley Oliver gave the final gifts for us, and we thanked her and Debbie Cobb for helping and encouraging us and our team to be the best in academics.


After winning Southeast Regional Champions and awarded for Sportsmanship Award at the Nationals, the 2005 ASD Academic Bowl Team was the last to do so. I and my classmate, Tiffany Smith, were the seniors and graduated at the end of school year. Tiffany had been with the team for three years and was the one of team captains. Thus, up to this date, this was the last school year for ASD team to win the regional competition and qualified in the Nationals (although the team did compete for a single national competition in 2011).

In the following school year, coaches Kaley Oliver and Debbie Cobb were remained, but there were major changes compared to what they did last school year. Abby Reid, who was turned senior, was the only original team member of the defeating Southeast champs to remain for the team. It was after their former team member, Jordan Armstrong, was expelled from ASD for having bad moral attitude as what he did last school year. While some upcoming freshmen students were trying to be part of the team, none of them were included for the regional competition.  Even though, some students who had been in the Academic Bowl class in previous school year were accelerated to be the part of the team. Sophomore Katelyn Clark and Robin Parker became the team members with Abby, and ASD were able to bring only three team members to compete at the regional competition in Mississippi School for the Deaf on February 2006. Because lacking to build as a “whole” team, ASD didn’t defend their champs (as Florida School for the Deaf team was bounced back to regain their championship) although the outstanding player was awarded to Abby Reid who was in her final year as a team member and captain.

In the following years, the ASD team had failed to qualify either in the semi-finals or finals (eventually ASD was the host of 2008 competition, but the team still failed to qualify due of their lowest quotient in terms of points). Within the years, two ASD students who became the team members were only known as my ASD friends when I first met them in 2004 – Katelyn Clark and Trey Gordon.

In 2011 and 2012, Gallaudet University decided to modify Academic Bowl tournament format into a single national competition after eliminating five regional tournaments, and the tournament was composing with 78 teams from different deaf school across the U.S. ASD Academic Bowl Team was the one to qualify for the national competition for the first time. However, within two years of the competition, ASD failed to advance to the next round of the playoffs despite of their best start in the eliminations. But in 2013 and since then, Academic Bowl has returned its original five Regional and one National competition format. ASD Academic Bowl Team has never won Southeast Regional tournament or qualified for the National competition.

Life After Academic Bowl

After my wonderful experience as an exchange student in the United States, I carried my academic experience when I joined (although I wasn’t willing to compete) some academic competitions in school. But this time, I was competing against non-deaf students (due of my transfer from deaf school to non-deaf school). I joined three more academic contests, although they were not as immense as Gallaudet’s Academic Bowl, during my high school and college years.

During my high school stint at International Montessori School (IMS), on February 3, 2006, I was the contestant with other senior high school students of IMS for the high school Quiz Bee Contest. Unlike in the Academic Bowl when I was the one to compete as a team, I was competing against them individually about the Physics subject when I ended only third on the competition.

In August 2006 while I was studying college as a freshman at Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) – Santa Rosa, I joined with my classmates, studying as Information Technology (I.T.) course, to form as a team to compete for the Math Quiz Bee Contest which we performed very poorly and finished only 11th place from other courses competed. A year later, as a sophomore student, I joined with two students from other courses (I really didn’t understand why I was placed with them from other courses rather than with my fellow two I.T. classmates (who both were also done the same separately) as a team) and formed as a team to compete during our school’s Buwan ng Wika (National Language Month) activities. However, my team didn’t get any score because most of the questions were difficult and hard to solve too (I think it was about Physics or something Math like that).

Among three academic contests (obviously focused only on one particular subject rather than questions about general knowledge or something) that I joined, none of them were successful to win with an award or prize compared to what I had done during my stint in “Deaf World” including Academic Bowl.

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As of this moment when I wrote this episode, the 2016 Southeast Regional Academic Bowl has been held right now. This tournament is held at Kentucky School for the Deaf in Danville from February 25 to 28, and there are 18 deaf and hard of hearing schools, including my “Alma Mater”: Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD), across the southeast of the United States. One of the things that I’m so surprised though is my former teammate (and team captain), Abby Reid-Jordan, who is now the one of the coaches for ASD Team composed with all-boys team.

ASD Team is ready to compete for 2016 Regional competition where my former Academic Bowl teammate, Abby Reid-Jordan (right, sitting), is now the one to coach these smart high school students from Alabama. (Photo courtesy from Gallaudet University Academic Bowl site)

For ASD Academic Bowl Team, I have wished for them with a BIG good luck and bringing home with a champ!



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