Academic Bowl team qualifies for televised tournament

After waiting for six years, starting on Oct. 15, Decatur’s Academic Bowl team will be a part of Atlanta’s HighQ Competition, a televised academic tournament.

Chris Goode, professor at Georgia State University, coaches Decatur’s team. He started coaching at Renfroe in 2009, moving to the high school three years ago. Ever since he started at Renfroe, Goode said that this team has wanted to compete on TV.

(L to R) Joey Emerson, Noah Broth, Eric Broner, Corbin Rainbolt and Evan Goode wait in anticipation with hands ready to press their buzzers after Chris Goode, team coach, feeds them the next practice question. This shows the final practice, on Oct. 15, for the team before the first round of the HighQ competition.

“I’m thrilled that we finally get to try this style of play that is really new to us. The rules are slightly different than for regular Academic Bowl, so it will be fun to try,” Goode said.

To qualify for HighQ’s bracket, the high school’s principal must reply to a letter sent to them asking whether a team should be considered for the tournament. Goode recently found that out this year and asked Principal Arlethea Williams to keep an eye out for the invitation.

“[Williams] replied to the letter, so we were entered in the drawing for this year’s contestants and were selected at random as one of the 32 teams to compete,” Goode said.

The team practices every Thursday afternoon from 3:45 to 5 p.m. Currently, they’re practicing for their first opponent, Banks County, but Goode doesn’t know what to expect.

“To my knowledge, we’ve never played against them in a regular Academic Bowl tournament. We have a really strong team, though, so I am hopeful we’ll advance to the next round,” he said.

Chris believes that if Decatur’s team competes well, they have a chance in advancing far in Atlanta’s HighQ competition. He said that if they beat Banks County, they’ll likely compete against Marist.

(L to R) Eric Broner and Corbin Rainbolt, two students from the six-member HighQ team, play around with the buzzer, Broner hitting his red button to answer hard questions with clever and witty answers.

“[Marist has] a very strong team in Academic Bowl and have beaten us before. We’ve beaten them in JV though, so I think it could go either way,” he said.

One of the HighQ qualifiers, Eric Broner, is excited for the first game in the televised tournament but still “a little worried.”

“Our best player, [junior Nathaniel Wolff], had to drop out less than a week before the [first] taping, so we don’t have nearly as strong a team,” Broner said.

Broner has been on the Academic Bowl team since the eighth grade, and he looks forward to “really nerd[ing] out each week.”

Aside from the team serving as an academic outlet, “it’s also fun to win.”

“Paideia beat us in the state tournament in 8th grade, however, we still qualified for nationals where we ended up ranking much higher than them,” he said.

While talent and frequent practice time helps with their success, Broner said that Goode can be tough but “he knows what he’s talking about.”

Four members plus two alternates are allowed to compete on a HighQ team, putting “a hard decision” on Goode’s shoulders. In the end, he chose the most-experienced and highest point-racking members as Decatur’s representatives.

Chris Goode, the team's coach, keeps a high-energy practice by calling out questions, back-to-back, to prepare the team for a high stakes competition environment.
Chris Goode, the team’s coach, keeps a high-energy practice by calling out questions, back-to-back, to prepare the team for a high stakes competition environment.

Repping the bulldogs are seniors Corbin Rainbolt and Noah Hull, and juniors Nathaniel Wolff, Eric Broner, Joey Emerson and Evan Goode.

Their first game was taped on Thursday, Oct. 15, and the team was victorious. While they’re moving on in the competition, their first win is scheduled to broadcast on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. Viewers can tune in on WSB TV channel two or can watch games at:

Photos by Mary Margaret Stewart