Quiz Bowl Becomes a Winter Co-Curricular


Jedidiah Bechtel '22

The Quizbowl leadership, consisting of (from left to right) Huck Whittemore ’22, Cooper Roh ’22, Jack McGlinn ’22, Yihan Ding ’22, and Sachin Umashankar ’21.

Based on a Chuck Palahniuk novel, name this film, in which Tyler Durden twice gives the command, “You do not talk about” the title place.

The answer? Fight Club

Questions like this are tackled every practice by members of the Quiz Bowl during the new winter co-curricular. Quiz Bowl consists of two teams of two to ten participants who compete against one another to answer questions on an array of subjects, including history, fine arts, pop culture, sports, literature, science, current events, and more. Not to be confused with trivia, team captain Cooper Roh ’22 explained, “[Quiz Bowl] makes you a very worldly, well-educated person…and is culturally significant. [But trivia] is trivial. It’s arbitrary information.”

Roh’s journey with Quiz Bowl began in the third grade. A family game of guessing facts about fish led Roh to memorize an entire book on ichthyology. His love of learning guided him to the study of geography as well. Soon after, Roh had the opportunity to try Quiz Bowl.

Roh entered his Prep year in 2018 with five years of experience in Quiz Bowl, the title of fourth-best middle schooler in the country, and a position on the national A-team. He, along with club co-heads, Yihan Ding ’22 and Jack McGlinn ’22, teamed up to improve the school’s program. Roh said, “It is almost unprecedented for a club to take root this fast, and it’s a testament to how much kids like to learn here at Hotchkiss and the academic rigor of this place.”

The club transitioned to a co-curricular this winter. As a co-curricular, the team’s practice time has increased from three hours a week to seven. The funding has also increased, which allows the team to enter more competitions. According to McGlinn, some tournaments cost thousands of dollars for the team to attend in person. The funds have also allowed the team to purchase supplies for socially distanced in-person practice. Roh said,“We’ve been able to purchase…two additional battery-powered portable buzzer sets with wires that are exactly 6 feet long.”

Nonetheless, the team’s transition to a co-curricular has also had drawbacks, such as time conflicts for those enrolled concurrently in other winter co-curriculars. To account for this, the team frequently opened up Zoom practices at alternate times. The club heads also hoped for an assistant coach to run separate practices for the A- and B-teams. However, with only one coach – Mr. Eric Stone – both experienced and novice players had to practice together, despite the skill gap between them. For the new participants to grow, seasoned players often allow them time to answer questions first.

Some of the team’s recent victories include Roh winning Varsity Champion in the U.S. History Bee Winter League in February 2021 and Varsity Champion World History Fall League in November 2019 in the online National American History Bee. Roh and McGlinn placed third as a pair in December’s National History Bowl’s Winter League, and the school’s A team, which consists of Ding, McGlinn, Roh, and Sachin Umashankar ’21, won the VT State Championships.

Roh wants a strong Quiz Bowl program to be his legacy at Hotchkiss. He plans on continuing to reach out to other students and locate resources that will allow the team to compete in more tournaments. After graduation, he says he hopes “to come back to Hotchkiss and teach as a history professor, Quizbowl coach, and farm manager.”