Alex Dzurick, a former MOQBA secretary, was a player for college teams at both Mizzou and Illinois and has been writing questions for local, regional, and national events. In this article, Alex shares information on how to stay involved in quizbowl after graduating from high school.
Many high school quizbowl players are hungry for more opportunities to participate in the game we all love after graduation. If you decide that continuing to be involved is right for you, then there are several ways to remain involved with quizbowl after you leave high school. None of these are exclusive of one another, and you should feel free to mix and match the opportunities that best fit your availability and expertise.
An important note: College life and/or a career can be a drain on your resources of time, money, and mental energy, so it is understandable that many players who were heavily involved in high school can no longer devote those resources to playing quizbowl. The members of MOQBA encourage you to make choices about your further participation in quizbowl (and, indeed, any activity) that are supportive of your mental health and financial stability.
Students interested in continuing their participation in quizbowl as a player beyond high school have a number of opportunities to do so. Playing in college is in many ways like playing in high school. While the difficulty and distribution adjust to match the increased rigor and specialization of college academics, the game’s format and basic principles stay largely the same. There are local events, regional/sectional qualifiers, and national championships, and you’ll be able to decide which competitions you are able to attend during any given season.
The landscape of college quizbowl consists of three major arenas of competition: NAQT, ACF, and independent events. NAQT’s offerings include sectionals (the SCT) and one of the two national championships (the ICT). Community colleges can participate in a similar series hosted by NAQT. The other major series is that of the Academic Competition Federation (ACF), which hosts Fall, Regionals, and Nationals each year. ACF’s tournaments are packet-submission, which means that experienced players competing at the tournaments submit their own packets of questions to the central editing team in order to play. In addition to NAQT and ACF, college quizbowl teams compete at several independent events each year, with varying requirements and locations each season.
While we encourage you to choose your college based on a holistic evaluation of your needs and your college’s opportunities, you may be interested in continuing to play and joining an already-formed team. The following colleges and universities in Missouri have active programs, and MOQBA members (many of whom are alumni of these programs) would be glad to assist you in contacting the current leadership (list last updated October 2018):
Of course, teams exist in nearly every region of the country (and beyond). For more information about colleges outside Missouri that have active quizbowl teams, please see this spreadsheet of team contacts.
Students planning to attend a college without an active program may wish to found a team. This can be an excellent opportunity to earn valuable experience in leadership, administration and financial management. Since college policies for starting new organizations vary widely, please check with your student activities office for details on how to begin the process. MOQBA members can provide some advice for structuring the quizbowl side of your organization, and help you host a tournament to fundraise for your team’s expenses. Contact us if you are interested.
Whether you’ve decided to keep playing or not, the skills you gained by participating in high school can be useful in other areas of the quizbowl community. One of the most obvious needs of a healthy quizbowl circuit is competent staff for tournaments. If you have a few Saturdays a month available, consider reaching out to hosts and directors of tournaments near you to volunteer your time as a moderator, scorekeeper, statsperson, or general tournament assistant. In return, hosts generally provide staff with an on-site lunch (and sometimes breakfast). Some hosts may be able to provide you a travel reimbursement for your gas expenses or a small stipend for your work.
For those of you still in Missouri, consider joining the Missouri Quizbowl Staffing Pool group on Facebook, where tournament directors can announce tournaments needing staff. In addition, MOQBA tournaments are always announced here on this website with contact information for the director(s), so it will be easy for you to contact these folks. You can also email us to express your general interest in staffing and we'll be glad to keep you updated with information about upcoming events looking for volunteers. Other ways to find staffing opportunities include signing up for NAQT’s tournament notifications and frequenting the announced tournaments on the hsquizbowl.org forums. In any case, if you are reaching out to a person with whom you are not already familiar, be sure to indicate your experience to them so that they can plan to use your volunteer services in the most efficient way.
One other way to remain connected to the greater quizbowl community after high school is to become a question writer. Not only can you keep your mind sharp and put all your knowledge to work, but you can make some reasonably serious money along the way. Personally, I have found this to be one of the most enjoyable routes to remain involved - so much so, that I founded a company to do it! You certainly don’t need to go that far to help write questions, though.
Finding opportunities to write will involve a bit of work on your part to connect with editors needing questions. Often, announcements to that effect will be posted on the hsquizbowl.org forums. These are great ways to match yourself with smaller or more independent events needing questions. You can also explore working as a writer for one of the established quizbowl companies (such as NAQT, which opens a general writer application each summer).
It is important to choose writing commitments that comfortably fit your schedule. If you only have the time to write a few questions a week or a handful a month, then be honest with the editor of the set about that. Especially for new writers, I recommend only biting off a small chunk for your first project to make sure you are able to complete it with reasonable speed.