East County college students head for Brain Bowl.
Lacey Anderson listened to the question being read by her coach, Bill Culver. As the question progressed, her hand inched closer to the buzzer near her left hand.
The final clue was “A ruler of Egypt.” Buzz. Anderson knew the answer.
“Cleopatra,” she said with a satisfied smile.
Anderson is a 2014 Lakewood Ranch High School graduate who now attends the State College of Florida, where she is a member of its Brain Bowl team. That, in itself, is an honor since the State College of Florida won a National Academic Quiz Tournament community college championship in 2015.
“I joined Brain Bowl because it makes me feel good to know things, and to prove to other people that I do, in fact, know things,” Anderson said. “It’s really fun to me.”
Brain Bowl is similar to “Jeopardy!,” where the team members have to hit a buzzer to answer a question. Categories vary from memes on the internet to the more typical geography, math and science questions. After a team member answers a question correctly, the entire team can wrack up more points with toss-up questions.
Ariel Rodriguez, a 2016 graduate of Lakewood Ranch High School, and David Espinal, a 2015 graduate of Braden River High School, are also team members. Austin Goode of Texas is the fourth member.
Rodriguez and Espinal both participated in Quiz Bowl — the high school version of the Brain Bowl — in high school.
Espinal was only on the Quiz Bowl for a week, and thought trivia wasn’t really for him.
“I went to a tournament (in high school) and I did horrible,” he said.
It was a different story when he enrolled in college. He was recruited by a professor and finally agreed to try out for the Quiz Bowl team.
“I was really good at it,” he said. “I guess they were impressed, because no one who goes to practice on the first try gets questions.”
Espinal said the difference for him was that his teammates were willing to work hard to perform well.
“It was definitely the people,” Espinal said of the reason he has enjoyed Brain Bowl. “(His teammates) gave me essential tips and tools on how to excel.”
The team practices every Tuesday and Wednesday. The practice is informal, and every member of the team — the number of team members fluctuates, but only four are allowed to compete at a tournament— participates.
Culver, their coach, reads questions, and the pressure builds for them to know the answer.
Rodriguez’s favorite category is philosophy, but he also likes questions about history and literature.
“I like the real stuff that’s dripping in substance, and that you can read about,” Rodriquez said. “I’ve been interested in philosophy for the longest time. I’ve learned a lot about history and literature from Brain Bowl alone.”
The SCF Brain Bowl team placed second in a sectional meet Feb. 10 at SCF in preparation for the nationals. The National Academic Quiz Tournament community college championship is March 2-3 in Rosemont, Ill.
“As long as we stay strong and confident, we can win,” Espinal said.