Back-to-Back West Regional Academic Bowl Champions
In February, our Academic Bowl team competed against 19 other Deaf schools and mainstream programs in the West Regional Academic Bowl competition. Academic Bowl is a competition hosted by Gallaudet University, where Deaf high school students compete in answering knowledge-based questions.
While many things have been lost during the pandemic, we are grateful that the Academic Bowl tradition has continued and our students were able to compete from the safety of their homes. In order to make this work, the Academic Bowl format was changed – gone are the buzzers and face-to-face competition, and instead, teams played individually on Zoom with the Gallaudet officers. Then at the end of each day, teams scores were compared with their opponents, thus determining who advanced in the tournament. While the traditional format rewarded speed as the first player to buzz-in got to answer the question, the modified format favored team collaboration and teamwork as players had ample time to discuss and decide on answers.
In February 2020, shortly before the pandemic shut down schools across the country, our CSD Eagles won the 2020 West Regional Academic Bowl competition in Honolulu, Hawaii, and we went on to place second at the Nationals. This year we returned all four players and successfully defended our title as West Regional champions.
Going into the regional competition, we secured the #1 seed in the Gallaudet screening test, giving us a favorable position in the competition’s 20-team bracket. Our first match was against Downey High School in Southern California, which we won 75-5. With eight teams left, our next match was against the Oregon School for the Deaf, and we advanced, winning 87-21. In the semifinals, we beat the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind 79-40. In our first three matches, our players did an excellent job discussing and providing team answers in the first and third rounds and also answering individually in the second. We had the highest tournament match scores in each of the first three matches.
In the championship match, we faced our rival and sister-school, the California School for the Deaf at Riverside. The match was live-streamed on the Gallaudet Youth Programs’ Facebook page and is still available for viewing. While both teams played the match separately with the Gallaudet officers, Gallaudet edited the videos to make it look as if we played each other in real-time. In the first round, our Eagles jumped to an early 8-point lead over the Riverside Cubs. However, the Cubs fought back and narrowed our lead to 2 points about halfway into the first round. CSD then caught fire and never looked back – finishing the first round with a large 18-point lead (46 to 28).
In the second round, where individual players took turns answering questions, we showed why we were not only the strongest but also the deepest team in the tournament. We answered 10 out of the 20 second-round questions correctly while Riverside answered 5 correctly. CSD went into the third and final round with a commanding 66-38 lead. In the third round, teams once again worked together to answer 15 questions. Our Eagles answered 9 out of the 15 questions correctly, while the Cubs got 8 out of 15. The final score was 93 to 62, and CSD had one of the highest championship match scores in history.
Following our championship victory, Gallaudet recognized teams and gave individual awards. All four of our players, Naomi Brock, Courtney Bronson, Donovan Holmes, and Chang-May Tan, received individual awards. Naomi, Courtney, and Chang-May were named All-Stars, and Donovan was named Most Outstanding Player for the second year in a row. Never before in Academic Bowl history has a team had all four players receive individual awards in a competition. Often several players, if not the whole team, knew the answers to the questions. These awards are a testimony to the depth and strength of our team as well as their commitment to working hard and preparing for their matches.
CSD and their coaches, Allison Gibbons and Andrew Phillips are incredibly proud of our players and their historic accomplishment. They next compete in the Nationals April 26th to 30th and you can follow them on the Gallaudet Youth Programs’ Facebook page.