New moderators guide Brain Game team

Members prepare for their next competition

The Brain Game team hopes to continue its streak of winning awards such as these.

Lauren Smith

The Brain Game team hopes to continue its streak of winning awards such as these.

Lauren Smith, Feature Co-Editor

In the past, the Brain Game team has won many victories in its matches and tournaments, including last year’s semifinalist squad.

While no longer televised, the Brain Game team entered into the White River Academic League. New co-moderators, English teacher Ms. Laurie O’Brien and social studies teacher Mr. Mark Matthews, lead the team this year.

O’Brien said, “It is still an academic challenge, but Brain Game has changed from what it used to be.”

O’Brien decided to become one of the new moderators because “the moderators from last year were no longer available, and I wanted to make sure (the students) could continue and keep doing (Brain Game).”

Matthews said, “I have sponsored Brain Game competitions in the past at previous schools and also other kinds of academic competitions and quiz bowl competitions. I’ve always enjoyed it, so it was a pretty natural fit to get involved here.”

The Brain Game team includes both varsity and junior varsity teams. Matthews said, “These consist of up to five people. There is a captain for each squad. We have to practice a lot on working together and trusting each other, but also relying on the captain because at different parts of the competition, only the captain may answer the questions.

“We practice a lot with questions from previous competitions and questions from a variety of different academic resources, and it covers the entire gamut of academic classes: math, science, history, literature, music, even things like pop culture and current events.”

Matthews continued, “I think it’s been an easy adjustment, and one of the reasons it has been is that we returned seven people from last year and the year before’s team. Some of those members have been able to provide leadership, which has made the transition very smooth.”

Brownsburg tournament

O’Brien said the format changed last year, so now they are just trying to keep the status quo. The team recently participated in a tournament at Brownsburg High School.

O’Brien said, “It’s called a Dog Fight at Brownsburg. Thirty-eight teams were there, so it was a pretty big deal. We went 3-2 (in head-to-head competition), so we actually felt pretty good about that because one of our problems is that we have people involved in other things.

“So that day, (senior) Liam Moore, who is normally our captain, was on a team with all freshmen, let’s call it a rookie team, and (senior) Christian Dummer, who had never been in a match before. They felt pretty good. They had five matches and went three and two.”

When the team practices, O’Brien said, “It’s almost like ‘Jeopardy.’ We get the buzzers out, and we try to go through lots of questions in a variety of categories. At the Dog Fight, there were really hard questions (including topics about opera and art). It really is a wide variety.”

Moore has been a member of the Brain Game team since his freshman year. He said, “In grade school I had done Academic Olympics, which is run through Cathedral. I like trivia, and it was something I did in grade school, so I figured why not try out for the team when I got to high school. I happened to be an alternate my freshman year.”

While the season lasts from approximately October to February, the team resumes competing in January. Its next match is against Lawrence North on Jan. 25.

Set up of matches

Matthews said, “The matches consist of four rounds and teams are matched against each other with the same questions. The first round is basically toss up questions which can be from any category. The second round is called a bonus round, so whichever team gets an answer correct has an opportunity to get up to three more bonus questions for each of the toss up questions.

“The third round is, I think, what most people consider their favorite round because there are five different categories of which you can choose from. The team that is in the lead after the first two rounds, gets to choose first what category they would like to answer. So those are 60-second rounds, (meaning) they have that much time to answer as many questions as they possibly can, and if they pass or don’t get through all the questions, the other team has 30 seconds.

“The fun part is the last two parts of Round 3. You get to stick the other team with a category, so by that time, part of the strategy is to see what they know well (so the team does not choose that category). The last round is called ‘stump the experts,’ and they are worth more points, but they are also harder questions. Depending on what the score is, going into that last round, the last round can be a lot of fun and can be the determining factor of who wins the match. That whole process takes about an hour.”

Favorite parts

Moore said, “What I like about Brain Game is I like hearing trivia questions because it’s something I’ve always liked. I like testing myself to see what I know, and it’s also a good test to see what I remember from my classes. There are math questions from calculus and history questions from what I learned in AP European history. I like being able to apply to stuff I learned in school, and I like the fact that it is fast paced. It’s not like taking a long test, there is always something happening; you’re always getting a question; you always have to be thinking.”

Junior Brendan Hurley is participating in his third year of being on the Brain Game team. He said, “My favorite part is the questions. You get to learn new things when you get a question wrong.”

Before every match, the Brain Game team goes to whichever school is hosting the match, whether it be here or the opponents’, with pizza and drinks to get to know the other team.

As of Jan. 11, the team has taken part in six matches, with three wins and three losses.

Lots of fun

Matthews said, “It’s just fun. I find that even though I’ve coached Brain Game and other quiz game competitions for over 20 years, I’m still learning stuff all the time. It’s fun to be around students who are interested in learning and knowing all kinds of things because it is so broad based; it’s not like you have to be an expert on anything, but to be good you have to know a lot about a lot of things.

“Practices and competitions are a lot of fun, and it’s a nice way to get to know students outside the classroom that I probably would not have known otherwise.”

O’Brien said, “It’s fun when (the students) are successful, when they know a hard question. We have some freshmen who have done a great job for us.”

The team often has Thursday morning practices in Matthews’ room, but O’Brien is going to try to add in after school practices second semester. O’Brien said, “If (Brain Game) is something you think you might be interested in, you can come check out a practice.”