Quahog Bowl

Danielle B.
No Comments February 14, 2017

This past week, I had the incredible opportunity to coach one of New London's Science and Technology Magnet High School (STMHS) teams in the Quahog Bowl.
 

It is very rare for one high school to have two teams competing but since other regional schools had dropped out and there were more than enough players for a second team, a B team from STMHS was selected for an extra spot in the contest in early January. After being asked to coach the second team, I enthusiastically accepted and began working closely with the high school students that I would lead.

The event was held at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus in Groton, CT and hosted 16 different teams from different regional high schools in the CT/RI area. Each team was competing for a chance to make the National Ocean Sciences Bowl competition in Corvallis, Oregon in April. During the morning session, the teams competed in matches round robin style which determined their placement in the bracket for the single elimination rounds in the afternoon. My job was to motivate the students and use strategy to alternate players to create the strongest team possible during each part of the match. Over the past few months, I have been able to sit in on the team's practices, assisting in answering questions, getting to know the player's personalities, and understanding the strategies of the game. I was on edge the morning of the competition, wondering if my team had prepared enough, if I personally had prepared enough, and if the competition in each match was going to be more challenging than expected. Throughout this feeling of apprehension, I began to notice my worries being settled through my student’s immeasurable confidence. It was definitely a contradictory feeling since usually the coach is trying to calm the player’s anxieties. After this realization, I knew that no matter what happened these high school students were going to take each match seriously but have fun throughout it all.

During the morning rounds, STMHS’s B team suffered a bad loss in their first match but never once did their poise waver. They took the loss and turned it into a motivating power that fueled them to move into the next rounds with more vigor. Even though, they did not win a match in the morning session, they competed more tactfully in each round, learning from their mistakes and wound up placing 14th out of 16th for the single elimination rounds in the afternoon. After taking a break during lunchtime and revaluating what needed to be adjusted, STMHS’s B Team started the afternoon rounds with a great deal of mental stamina. My team had been matched with the 3rd seed team, Choginchaug High School, for the first match. What others thought was going to be a relatively easy blow out for Choginchaug, wound up being a competition that kept the audience biting their nails and at the edge of their seat. My team competed vigorously, making no mistakes and allowing every opportunity to gain points to make it an extremely close match. Unfortunately, with only 30 seconds remaining, the STMHS’S B team answered one question wrong and the final score ended 36-35 with Choginchaug High School winning. Although this was the case, this group of high school was not discouraged; in fact, they were ecstatic that they were able to take on a team that had a history of being unbeatable and give them a run for their money. It is shocking to look back on this day now and realize that the most important lesson I learned was not about having more book smarts or preparing more to win but more about learning about yourself personally. These group of high schools students taught others through every match how important it is to be confident, resilient, determined, motivated and even humble through the dark times and to never give up hope no matter what the situation. It might sound cheesy but because of their amazing sportsmanship qualities, I think the real winners of the Quahog Bowl were the STMHS high school students. I know that the lessons that this team taught me through this incredible experience will definitely follow me throughout my life.


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