Gustavus QuizBowl team prepares for first virtual competition

Emily VanGorderStaff Writer

QuizBowl is a national trivia competition game open to students across the United States from middle school through college. The National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) was founded in 1996 by a group of former QuizBowl players who wanted to make the trivia game more accessible and popular among students. The competition is open to any and all students or groups, who can compete individually or in teams.
“I [got] into QuizBowl in high school. I enjoyed it a lot, so I thought I’d continue on in college. My high school group was very large, but QuizBowl doesn’t have as much of a collegiate presence, especially in smaller schools. Here at Gustavus, our team is around twelve people… It’s like bar trivia, but more academic,” Senior Alyssa Ford said.
Junior Jasper Johnson joined his high school QuizBowl team his freshman year of high school. After coming to Gustavus, he joined the QuizBowl team as a first-year.

“I was definitely a little intimidated at first… [The] juniors and seniors blitzed through the questions like it was nothing at all, while I was just a freshman who was still learning the rules… Once I went to more practices and got to know everyone better, I started having a much better experience.”
-Jasper Johnson

Gustavus QuizBowl participants meet during the week and go through questions to practice for tournaments, which focus on a variety of topics.
“We’re big fans of the annual pop culture tournament, which is a lot of fun. It goes over the events of the year in a trivia format, which includes things like music and movies,” Ford said.

“You think you’re going to walk into a club of know-it-alls, but really it’s just a bunch of people hanging out and doing trivia. It’s a lot of useless knowledge we have bouncing around our heads that we make fun.”
-Alyssa Ford

As President of the Gustavus QuizBowl team, Ford is in charge of getting funding, signing up for tournaments and corresponding with the Presidents of other QuizBowl teams throughout the Midwest to plan getting together and competing in tournaments.
Competitions are usually held in person. Students on opposing teams hit a buzzer to answer questions without conversing with their team members. If players think they know the answer, they do not have to wait for the question to finish being read. Correct answers to these types of questions receive more points than regular answers do, but it is more of a risk for the team. Due to COVID-19, competitions have become less frequent and are being held online.
“This year, competitions are virtual, and we have one coming up at the end of February. It will be over Zoom, using virtual buzzers, which may be a bit hectic if there is lag or any technical issues,” Ford said.
While most QuizBowl tournaments are done for fun, there are sometimes prizes for winning teams or individuals. Some other popular prizes are books, vintage records, and collectibles.
While QuizBowl can sound intimidating, Ford urges any interested students to try it out.
Some large national competitions allow teams to travel to compete.
“I’d say the best experience I’ve had was going to Nationals in Atlanta back during my senior year of high school… It was a blast… Even though we didn’t end up making it to the finals, the tournament itself was really fun, especially being able to meet teams from all across the country,” Johnson said.
Once Ford graduates this year, Johnson will step in as President of the Gustavus QuizBowl team. However, current Gusties can still conact Alyssa Ford ( to be added to the QuizBowl email list– new members are always welcome.

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