ELMHURST – With quick wits, confidence and a penchant for learning, Timothy Christian High School's Scholastic Bowl team won its first state championship March 17 and received the recognition of the Elmhurst City Council on Aug. 7.
Mayor Steve Morley and the team's coach, Carlton Rink, addressed the meeting's attendees.
"Scholastic Bowl is basically the Super Bowl of academic competition," Rink said at the meeting, explaining what Scholastic Bowl is all about.
In an Illinois High School Association Scholastic Bowl match, two schools' teams of five players each face off and try to be the quickest to correctly answer questions on a variety of academic subjects, from math and literature to the fine arts and pop culture. Matches start with a toss-up question, and the student who hits his or her buzzer first gets the first chance to answer it. Answering the question correctly leads to a set of bonus questions, which the teams' members can discuss and work together to answer. There are 24 toss-up questions in an official match.
"You need students who are very knowledgeable, very quick and confident," Rink said in a phone interview.
Rink said he knew at the beginning of the season that the school would have "a good chance" at winning state since the team earned second place at sectionals in the 2015-16 academic season, which has happened three times since he began coaching the school's Scholastic Bowl team 21 years ago. All of the team's starters from the previous year returned for the 2016-17 season.
"The kids are really sharp and on their toes," Rink said.
Peoria Civic Center was the site of the students' victory in their division, which consists of 248 small Illinois schools, Rink said.
Carl Miller and Daniel Kuiper, two of the graduating seniors on the team, had competed throughout high school. Kuiper was named a top 10 player in Class A in state, an award based on players' statistics and recommendation letters and ultimately decided by an All-State committee.
Kuiper said he did Scholastic Bowl for fun as a freshman and sophomore and then focused more as a junior and senior on questions pertaining to literature, mythology and the fine arts. He credits his English teachers for helping him appreciate literature, and he also practiced regularly during free time he had by studying compilations of old practice questions he found online. Kuiper will attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and plans to study physics.
Miller said Kuiper's academic growth was "tremendous" because of Kuiper's additional study of the lists of old questions.
Miller specialized in politics, history and current events, and said that the best part of Scholastic Bowl is the camaraderie among the players. His sister, Anna Miller, also participates in Timothy Christian's Scholastic Bowl program. Carl Miller will study politics and economics at Hillsdale College in Michigan and plans to go to law school.
"We work really hard to learn and grow academically," Carl Miller said of the Scholastic Bowl season.
"Winning is like the icing on the cake."