On April 29, Mt. Hebron’s It’s Academic team won the first round of their playoffs in their first-ever fully virtual competition and would go on to place second in the entire tournament. The coach of the quiz team, Ms. Weiss, won Howard County’s It’s Academic Coach of the Year.
One of the members of Mt. Hebron’s team, sophomore Jeremy Roberts-Kleban, explained via text message some of his experiences with the fully online version of the competition.
“The connection wasn’t great, it was hard to hear people talk due to buffering, and the lighting was bad. Also, they changed the format so there was no buzzer competition,” said Roberts-Kleban.
The buzzer competition is a portion of It’s Academic where a question is read aloud to both teams. When a player buzzes in they will give their answer. The earlier on in the question they buzz in, the more points the player can garner for their team. This buzzer portion of the game is a large part of It’s Academic, and removing it altogether led to major changes in the format.
There were other flaws with the overall format on top of the removal of the buzzer competition. According to Roberts-Kleban, while he believed the format worked to the way It’s Academic intended, it made the competition much easier.
For future matches with an online format, Roberts-Kleban said, “I think they could make the questions harder to balance out the fact that we no longer have to be thinking as fast.”
On top of the easier format, there were no anti-cheating measures put in place. Although he does not believe that anyone did so, Roberts-Kleban said, “It was very much self-policed. In theory, you could have Googled answers.”
In the end, while the format did make it an easier competition, Roberts-Kleban said, “[It’s Academic] tried their best.”
Following these statements that Roberts-Kleban gave after round one, Mt. Hebron’s team moved on and placed second in the playoffs, falling only to Centennial High School’s team in the finals. And for her great leadership, Ms. Weiss won the It’s Academic Coach of the Year award.
Sophomore Connor Croft, a member of the It’s Academic club, said for Ms. Weiss’s win, “I’m really happy for her, she definitely deserves it and I’m glad even people outside this school are able to recognize the work she does for us.”
Mt. Hebron’s It’s Academic team has had a great year. Despite their disappointment regarding virtual playoffs, they made it all the way to second place in the finals. A special congratulations to Ms. Weiss for being awarded Coach of the Year for leading Mt. Hebron’s team through these tough times.