There were more pocket protectors in the room than you could could on the fingers of one hand, and there wasn't a single person in the room who couldn't give you the first 20 digits of pi. With a state championship on the line, every nerd had their pride to defend.
The Scholastic Team at my school was a gathering place for the intellectually elite. Less prestigious than debate, Scholastic Team was the invisible escape for those who wanted to share the speed with which they could return trivia. However, the Scholastic Team would be invisible no more.
“We made it to the Finals!” exclaimed Mr. Call, the coach for Scholastic Team. He was wearing bulky glasses, and a Star Wars tie. “We will be on Idaho Public Television for our match tomorrow morning!” True, that wasn't a very large audience, but a public appearance of any kind made us almost a sport.
Our opponents for the championship the following morning would be Hillcrest. They were the reason we hadn't made it to the championship last year. But this year was different. We had defeated them at the qualification tournament a few weeks ago, just to make it to where we were. We rested easily on this knowledge that night.
“Which author, in the play Our Town, defined. . .”
“Whose assassination in 1968. . .”
The bus ride to the Television studio was filled with the sound of random trivia. In ideal situations, we would be able to answer the question before it was done being asked, so the other team would have less of a chance of being able to answer the question.
When we got there, the buzzers were lined up, and Hillcrest was waiting. The reader for the match walked in with a big cheesy grin. He was wearing a suit above the waist, but jeans below, because the camera was designed to catch him at an angle so no one else would see what pants he was wearing.
“That is so tacky,” we all whispered in turn. We took our seats and prepared for the match to start.
“Today, we will have the Idaho State INL High School Scholastic Team State Championship!” The reader had a charismatic “TV” voice. “On the left, we have Madison High School from Rexburg, and on the right, we have Hillcrest High School from Idaho Falls!” He continued to explain the rules of the event. The rolling cameras made us all nervous. We were all anxious to get started. Finally, it was time to begin: “On with the first question. Your category is 'Eye Examination.' What instrument. . .”
Buzz! Hillcrest knew the answer after 4 words. “Ophthalmoscope.”
“Correct. I'm glad you said that, so I didn't have to!”
Ophthalmoscope? I didn't even know that was a word before this point in time. That was only the first question though. We could come back. But Hillcrest got the next question. And the following one. And the one after that. It wasn't until the forth question that we got a chance to answer. And the answer was incorrect, resulting in a subtraction of 5 points.
“We are now halfway through the first half of the round, and the score is 55 to 5, Hillcrest!” announced the reader. Mr. Call in the back of the room was giving us exaggerated gestures from where he couldn't be seen by the camera. He was desperate for us to get Hillcrest off of its streak. And at that point, something with our team clicked. An obscure Russian history question was asked, and quickly answered by the history buff on our team. After that, our team was ready. We started answering every question. By the end of the first half, we tied up the score, 80 to 80.
“It is now time for the lightning round! The score is exactly tied, so we will need to toss a coin to determine who will go first!” Madison lost the call, meaning we would compete first. Mr. Call was the most nervous of all of us. He looked like he has started to hyperventilate during the last question that tied the score. After both teams answered the lightning round questions, the score was 115 to 135, in favor of Madison.
From that point forward, Madison remained ahead. Our team left the studio as State Champions. We were all content in knowing that we were the biggest nerds in high school in the entire state of Idaho.