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Badger Knowledge Bowl “fired up” to compete this year

On the courts, mats, and fields, Badger and Greenbush-Middle River students compete with one another as Gators. But outside the athletic ring, each school’s students compete in activities on their own, including music, robotics, math league, and knowledge bowl.

A senior on this year’s Badger Knowledge Bowl team, Noah Warne highlighted the rivalry between the two school’s Gator knowledge bowl teams. He also mentioned how, for his first three to four years in knowledge bowl, the lunch break at an out of town meet was his number one priority. Now, his priority has shifted to something else.

“Now I’m probably here to win more than I was just for the lunch and (the chance to) get out of school,” Warne said. “… (Knowledge bowl has provided) a lot of good memories and stuff like that too (and) a lot of just having fun with, even with other teams there, and especially Greenbush(-Middle River), always the back and forth kind of rivalry with them, trying to beat them. And, I mean, sometimes we do (beat them) sometimes they do (beat us), but, yeah… it’s a good time.”

This “good time” will look a little different than in years past. Thanks to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Badger team will not be traveling out of town for meets. They will still be competing this year, but instead in a virtual format. The team’s first meet is scheduled for January 6.

Some members of the Badger Knowledge Bowl team, including its coach Mike Coltom, discussed past team performances, thoughts on the season still taking place, the parts of knowledge bowl they enjoy most, their team knowledge dynamics, and their hopes for this season.

Beginning practice on November 23, the team practices at 7:30 am on Mondays and Tuesdays. The team includes 12 members, including 7 seniors. The team members are as follows, with the seniors denoted by a star symbol: *Avdyl Jasiqi, *Noah Warne, Gabe Warne, Hannah Rud, *Jack Burkel, *Talon Hilligas, Greta Lee, Jasmine Christianson, *Tanner Davy, *Bailey Maurstad, Aulona Jasiqi, and *Alexis Rud.

Speaking during a December 22 Zoom interview, Avdyl Jasiqi said practices had gone pretty well to that point. At the first one or two practices, he said, it took some time to become accustom to some of the new parts about this knowledge bowl season. The team is using the Discord application, a messaging application for team communication, and the BuzzIn.Live application, for buzzing in answers to the questions. Most of its team members are together in Coltom’s Badger School shop classroom with masks on for practices, but the team also has a couple students participating on the team in a distance learning format, using Google Meets to communicate with them. Coltom said Google Classroom has been working “pretty good.”

“I haven’t heard any complaints from them,” Coltom said, “other than making sure that Noah (Warne) and Avdyl (Jasiqi) aren’t on the same team when we practice.”

When it comes to meets, the in-person members of the two competing Badger teams will be in different rooms. For the first time in a long time during his 15 years as Badger Knowledge Bowl Coach, Coltom said the Badger team would have two teams competing this year at meets— five members on each team.

Speaking of meets, the team has six regular season meets before getting into the sub-region meet. The past three years, the Badger team has advanced to the regional meet, having to place in the top six at the sub-regional meet to do so.

“I talked to the previous (Badger) Knowledge Bowl Coach… She’d coach for 11 years and I had been coaching for 11 years, and we, neither one of us could remember going to regions,” Coltom said, “So that was pretty cool that we got 22 years and we finally made it to regions. And now we’ve done it three years in a row.”

Last season, the team finished in the top eight at the regional meet, but not high enough to advance on to state.

As for having a season this year— one that has seen its share of activity cancellations and postponements— members of the Badger team had some skepticism to start with in terms of how a season would work, but that feeling eventually shifted to excitement.

“When I first heard about it, I was a little skeptical because I was like, ‘Oh, wow. I mean, we’re going to be so limited in what we can do,’” Avdyl Jasiqi said. “But… as the coaches and the people in charge started messing around with all the possibilities that you could do, it actually worked out really well. And I’m just, I’m really fired up to be going to meets still, but not in person, but at least still have a knowledge bowl season. And it’s just really exciting.”

Noah Warne also had some skepticism to begin with, not really thinking knowledge bowl was going to work well in a virtual format and believing there would be some potential internet-related lag issues. He added how the BuzzIn.Live app has worked fairly well.

“(I’m) just excited because I think we have a really good team this year,” Warne said. “And we have a lot of people and a lot of people who have put some time into it and a lot of people who just know a lot of things.”

Regardless of the season being run in a virtual format, these Badger students get the opportunity to be a part of that Gator Knowledge Bowl rivalry, test their knowledge, earn accolades, and make more memories together as a team.

To see the complete story, read the January 6 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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