The humble pub trivia game may be a lighthearted, spontaneous event for most Bowdoin students, but the game is a regular—and very serious—part of the week for the Bowdoin Quiz Bowl team.
“I think [Quiz Bowl] is a vehicle to test your knowledge and advance your intellect, not to be the smartest people around,” Avery Ellis ’23, one of the team’s leaders, said. “We enjoy applying what we’ve learned in classes, or just on random Wikipedia binges, and then doing that in the environment of camaraderie.”
The group of students meet once a week on Tuesday nights and participate in a number of competitions throughout the semester. Science, literature, history, fine and visual arts and music are all topics of inquiry during Quiz Bowl meets. The group believes that the wide variety of knowledge-based categories at these competitions allows people to share facts that they find interesting at many levels of tournament difficulty.
Quiz Bowl leaders stress that the team’s structure allows for a fairly accessible level of entry into the games.
“You don’t have to be a history major to know the Battles of Lexington and Concord, for example,” Ellis said.
As with the vast majority of extracurricular activities at Bowdoin, the Quiz Bowl team’s operations were greatly affected by the pandemic. In-person tournaments, typically hosted in Rhode Island, were instead held online.
“Quiz Bowl tournaments throughout the pandemic were held online through Zoom or Discord for the most part,” Ellis said. “And those were definitely an adjustment.”
Though the team has now returned to in-person competition this semester, the shift back has presented its own issues to the team. According to Ellis, many club members who joined last year have started to question their membership now that the club demands a more rigorous, in-person meeting schedule.
“The whole day’s commitment of having to drive down to Rhode Island and drive back, for us and other teams, is causing a lot of people in Quiz Bowl to rethink their commitment,” Ellis said.
Despite this Ellis remains hopeful. He believes that the team has a group of committed students that are dedicating themselves to attending more competitions in the future, especially during the next fall semester, when the majority of the team’s competitions occur.
In addition to the breadth of topics that Quiz Bowl draws on, the Bowdoin Quiz Bowl team is also composed of a wide variety of class years. This breadth of ages also led to an unusual situation in which all of the leadership team of the group is composed entirely of juniors.
“When Michael Borecke [’21] graduated, there weren’t any class of 2022 people that were really interested [in being in a leadership position], so the leadership fell to us,” Justis Dixon ’23, a member of the team’s leadership, said.
Due to the gap in senior leadership, current team leaders believe that they will be able to carry on their leadership into their senior years. Additionally, they hope to inspire more people to join the quiz team in the coming years.
“It’s fun, and it’s a really supportive environment, and we hope to grow the team so that after we graduate, the team can live on,” Dixon said.