Evan Farley, ‘20
The rise of the BHSEC academic quizbowl team in the last year is nothing less than remarkable. Since attending its first tournament in East Brunswick, New Jersey, on February 11, 2017, the team has climbed up the ladder of quizbowl greatness. Now the team is qualified for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments High School Championship in Atlanta this May. The Bard High School Early College Manhattan A team is ranked 82nd in the nation, according to hsqbrank.com. “Not out of 82,” explained a frustrated Max Shatan (Y2), captain and founder of the team, “there are thousands of team in the country”. Other members of the award winning A team include Chris Stauffer (Y2), Lev Bernstein (Y2), and Declan Mahaffey Dowd (Y2). Shatan and the team had to overcome a lot on their journey to such a prestigious standing. Fighting the ignorance of reluctant classmates, the team struggled to gain members and respect. These obstacles did not stop a persistent Shatan; his relentless efforts in support of the relatively unknown game have paid off. When asked to describe what quizbowl meant to him, he replied:
The lord has given me a beautiful gift and I intend to service his name in only the most noble of pursuits: Academic Quiz Bowl, game of kings, pastime of the divine. Where the struggle between good and evil transcends the abstract and becomes the most tangible of conflict: my opponent and I, brothers in faith, yet one of us must die, and this I abhor. But without death, can we truly love life? Without abhorrence, can there truly be love? And without Quiz Bowl, what is existence but an unbearable slog, one defeat after the next with a brutal end, sans fanfare. I live, therefore I Quiz Bowl. Good night, and good quiz bowl.
This positive, if ambiguous, attitude, as well as the knowledge of a plethora of random facts, has kept the team afloat. But attitude doesn’t pay for bus tickets, and to get to Atlanta this spring, the team had to get creative in fundraising. So the team created, Bardbowl I. Hosted at BHSEC on Saturday, February 10, twenty-four teams from sixteen schools came from around the tristate area to compete in the “game of kings.” The event was the culmination of several months of intense planning and coordinating with other teams, administration, and staff. For Shatan, it was so much more: “You all are such a supportive community,” he said, addressing the hundred or so high school students assembled in the auditorium on the morning of Bardbowl, “I want to thank you for coming down here to the Lower East Side this Saturday.” His hard work as Director General of the tournament gave life to a stressful day of statistics and logistics, stopping only to eat a couple of plantains.
Bardbowl could not have occurred without the help of two dozen or so BHSEC students, other coaches, Dr. Despommier, who chaperoned, and Shatan’s father, Gregory Shatan. Thanks to all of their contributions, “the tournament ran really very smoothly, especially for our first ever try” Shatan noted.
At the end of the long day, the North Babylon A team, from Long Island, took home the gold trophy, and the BHSEC team took home the actual gold, with nearly $1,000 raised. The funds raised are enough to cover expenses for the trip to national and local tournaments the team will be attending in the spring, money is no longer the most troubling aspect for the team. For now, the concern is the future of the club. Next year, with the all Year 2 A team graduating, there will be a shortage of players. “We really hope that more students consider joining quizbowl in the coming weeks,” Shatan pleaded, “we would love to have you.”
Wish them the best in nationals and whatever other journey the BHSEC academic quizbowl team faces next.