LISLE – If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be on the team.
That’s Yousef Matariyeh’s perspective. Matariyeh, a school psychologist at Lisle Senior High School, has been coach of the school’s scholastic bowl team for more than 10 years.
For those unfamiliar with the activity, a scholastic bowl match consists of two teams of five players, Matariyeh said. The teams compete to answer questions on a variety of subjects – anything from mathematics, science, art and literature to sports, entertainment and current events.
A toss-up question is asked and the player who “buzzes in” and answers it correctly receives three bonus questions. Each of those questions is worth a certain number of points, Matariyeh said.
Whichever team has the most points at the end of a match wins.
The Illinois High School Association governs the state final, regional and sectional scholastic bowl tournaments.
The Lisle Senior High School team has gone to the state final – the highest level of competition in Illinois – three times in the last five years and has won it twice, he said.
This year, on March 21 in Peoria, the team came in second at the state final.
This year’s team included students from all four high school grade levels, according to Matariyeh. The team included one freshman, two sophomores, two juniors and three senior students.
“It was a very eclectic team,” he said.
Amanda Marach, a 17-year-old junior at Lisle Senior High School and captain of the varsity scholastic bowl team, said she was excited for her first state final tournament.
“I joined [the team] my freshman year,” she said. “I really enjoy the competition and being able to apply what I learn in and out of school in a competitive form.”
Aside from competing at the event, Marach said it “was fun hanging out with everyone on the team for longer than usual.”
Marach’s strongest subjects include music, music theory, history and musicals, she said.
“You tend to want your players to have one area of strength, and hopefully it’s an area of interest,” Matariyeh said. “If it’s an area of strength and interest, they’re more likely to invest more time into it.”
The scholastic bowl season “is the longest season of any sport or activity in our school,” he said. Students began meeting for practices at least three days a week in early October, and this year’s season stretched all the way to March 21, the day of the state final tournament.
“The best way to train is to research and do questions during practice,” Matariyeh said.
The questions he asks are usually those from previous competitions. And Marach said that in addition to attending practices, she also researches on her own.
“When you do it long enough you’re able to retain [the information],” Matariyeh said.
But the real key, he said, is having fun.
“I tell [the students] one thing – if you’re not having fun, quit,” he said. “They kind of look at me funny. But to me, you should enjoy doing it. If you’re not enjoying doing it, then why are you doing it?”
And the students are what’s keeping Matariyeh coaching year after year, he said. He refers to his work, both as a coach and a school psychologist, as his “passion.”
“I do have a bunch of great kids and they are a lot of fun to be with,” he said. “Overall, I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”