Monday, April 29, 2013

Acadec Nationals

This past week, the Academic Decathlon team traveled to Minneapolis, MN for the USAD National Competition. Being that this is my first yeas as a coach, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but despite all of the little bumps along the road, and traveling with 14 kids will inevitably lead to a few of those, I had a great time.

We left mid-day on Tuesday to head to the Twin Cities. The vans that were supposed be delivered to school  for us to use were late to arrive, which led to a lot of sitting around, and a bunch of anxious kids. Once we loaded up the van, we made it to the Dells before taking a  lunch break and then to Minneapolis by about 7:30 PM. The kids were off to work with a night of studying.

On Wednesday, the coaches went to breakfast, and then returned to the hotel to pick up the kids and take them to the U of M campus for a study day.  The kids worked on math with their math assistant coach and then practice their speeches out in the commons near the architecture hall right on campus. It was really cool experience.  After a quick run back to the hotel to regroup, we took the kids to Mesa Pizza for dinner (Thanks to my cousin Meredith for that awesome suggestion).  It's a lot like Ian's for those of you Madison folks.  I'm craving a slice as I was that good!The next day was Team check- in, so we got ourselves registered and then it was a complete debacle. The welcome reception took a very long time and the activity planned for the kids was very disorganized, so that made the whole event fall even further behind schedule. Somehow we still managed to get in some of the practice work we had hoped to and the kids got themselves ready for speeches and interviews and team pictures,  which took place that evening.

all classed up in their dress clothes but actin' like their typical selves 
Friday morning was an early one, as the kids had testing first thing in the morning and all the way until lunchtime. They took a break for lunch and then we all got ready in our Nationals T-shirts (Keep Calm and Study On -- with an astronaut's helmet -- the theme of this year's competition was Russia -- think space race, peeps); the shirts were designed by the kids, and that made it even more fun when we ALL wore them and entered the  Super Quiz event as a team.  And yep, the Super Quiz is exactly what it sounds like, one giant quiz. Each kid is to answer six questions on the various topics they studied all year long. After that event, where we did quite well, definitively beating our in-state rivals, New Berlin Eisenhower, the kids went to a team activity and the adults went to the American Burger Bar, which was very good.

The next morning was the banquet, which took almost two hours longer than planned. While this certainly made  it less  enjoyable than it could have been, the kids were happy with their overall performance because they all improved their overall scores from state. In Division II, our division based on school size, we placed second missing out on first by a mere 200 points, which is only a handful of questions in a ten event competition.

USAD National Finals, 2nd Place in Division II 

After pictures and a celebration of how well the kids had done, we loaded up the vans and went to Minnehaha Falls State Park, where I got to spend a little bit of time with Brian's cousins Jason and Carter, who both met me there. The kids checked out the falls and played soccer, Frisbee, and football before we headed to the Mall of America for dinner and some shopping.

The next morning, Sunday, we checked out, went to Dinkytown for breakfast (which actually turned out to be a grilled cheese and 'famous' milkshakes for most of us).  We then loaded up the vans and headed back to school.  Five days in a hotel and away from school seems like a long time, but with these kids the time flew by, and I can't believe that this wild ride that was the Academic Decathlon season  is over. 

I adore each of the kids on the team, and I am fairly certain it will take me quite a few Monday night to get out of the routine of being with all of them until 9 PM. I'm also quite certain that their speeches will be running through my head for days... no,, months to come.

Ike's coach and West's coaches - celebrating together 

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