Stories of the NSC: Hastings High School

by Colin McNamara

Hastings is a small school with big aspirations. Their dominating title run in NAQT’s Small School National Championship Tournament was followed by a disappointing finish in the larger NAQT High School National Championship Tournament. That mellowed their expectations for the NSC, but they’re still hoping for a top 8 finish. This is their last tournament of the year, and their real goal is just to play their best and to only worry about the next game, and to “keep their vibe good.”

Playing for a small school hits different. The team has known each other since 3rd grade (or earlier), and everybody in the school community knows each other and follows the team. On a Monday after a tournament, their classmates will ask how they did. Parents get stopped on the street to give updates on the team. With a small school national title, the quiz bowl team is Hasting’s most successful team ever in any activity (but they’re still waiting for the parade that a soccer team got).

Last year, the team decided to dedicate themselves to study for quiz bowl. They put the entire quiz bowl distribution into a spreadsheet and partitioned it among the team. Hazel’s myth background led her to pick up religion and ancient history, but also literature and visual fine arts. Benny is studying history–but not European history, which Owen covers–and chemistry. They don’t have a science player, splitting the science between Benny and Jacob. (Jacob is just “a nerd” and “pulls the most random stuff” and doesn’t study. They “let him cook” on his acquired knowledge.)

Sometimes this method of study means that they learn the clues more than the material. Owen jokes that he’s an auditory fine arts player, but he never listens to classical music. (He later admitted that he does, occasionally, listen to pieces.) Hazel started off struggling to visualize the art and just memorizing details, but says that she is into painting now. Her study has led her to love topics that she never would have approached.

Photos by Colin McNamara.

ed.: This interview was conducted midday Saturday, before the Yellow Jackets secured their spot in the championship bracket. With their eventual 4th-place finish– and Hazel’s crowning as an All-Star and one of the top individual scorers –they achieved that t-8 goal and much more.