The Academic Bowl team at Stephens County High School is on track to head to a national competition later this year.
Already this year, the team won a school record 13 matches, finished undefeated in its league, outscored league opponents by a 2 to 1 margin, and ended the year ranked third in state after losing only to AAAA state champion Marist.
Now, the team is one of just 256 schools of all sizes to be invited to the National NAQT Championship Tournament in Chicago later this month.
The team’s coaches are Ken Camp and Gerald Stokes.
Camp said he is extremely proud of the team and feels this accomplishment is the result of the hard work they have put in all year long.
“I remember at the state competition, the night before, nobody wanted to go out because they wanted to hit the books and get ready,” said Camp. “It made a difference. The next day we hung with teams that had far more resources than we do.”
For example, Camp said Marist is a private school that has a class that focuses full time on Academic Bowl competition.
“Looking back on the NCAA basketball tournament, I compared us to Mercer when they knocked off Duke because we were knocking off teams that were surprised to see a team from little Toccoa,” said Camp.
The team captains are Connor Roberts and Taylor Pruitt.
Pruitt said she is excited to have the chance to represent Stephens County on a national level.
“It makes me really, really proud, especially to represent my school and especially for a team I have worked really hard for,” said Pruitt. “We have all worked really, really hard this year.”
Other seniors are Kristen Young, Jordan Chambers, and Richie Jarvis.
Jarvis said he is also looks forward to the chance to compete against schools from around the country on behalf of Stephens County.
“I have lived in the Southeast my entire life and I have never even really left this area of the country, so that is going to be an experience,” said Jarvis. “But I am really excited to be able to go and represent the school. It has done a lot for me and I am glad to have had the chance to go here.”
Juniors on the team include Kris Clark, Grant Dawson, Nicci Gautreaux, Emma Epps, Chris Mace, Dylan Murdock, Tessa Jordan, and Jaron Lehman.
Lehman said the team has to practice to be prepared for questions in every subject from literature to history to math and even pop culture.
“We have done a lot of scrimmaging in the first semester,” said Lehman. “We had a plan this semester to go through three subjects a day and make sure to concentrate on those subjects and hit those points where we know we have been weak in the past and through that, prepare for whatever could come up at Chicago.”
Juniors will travel to Chicago on May 30th for the national competition and the seniors will fly in on the morning of May 31st, after graduation.
The team is looking for donations to help cover the cost of travel to Chicago.
Coach Camp said the school system and the community have already been very supportive and any additional support would be greatly appreciated.
For more information, contact Coach Camp at the high school at 706-886-6825, extension 6910.