On The Front Lines

by Brandy Freberg, March 24, 2017

As most of you have heard, Kendall’s Knowledge Bowl team has taken its eighth consecutive win at the Regional ACF Knowledge Bowl; but what you may not have heard is how the hardship and the pure nerve of the four players as we battled tooth and nail to come out on top. Being the only female player on the team, I guess you can say I offer a more romanticized version of how the event transpired.

The event was a three-day conference that took place at the Hilton on Congress- a sophisticated hotel that makes a person feel like they have just entered a castle form a fairytale, complete with tucked-away corridors and grand ballrooms. In one such tucked away meeting room, one our first night, we are read the rules and encouraged to ask questions to clarify any information. We even snagged from freebees from the ACF host. Before her departing, Chef Altieri had warned us when this day came, we would be “frothing at the mouths”, and man, she was right! As the excitement built in our blood, we all felt the same thing, “bring on the competition”. We were thirsty for the battle.

The second day was the actual day of the competition, and we won the seed for the first chair. Winning first seed is just a fancy way of saying we scored the best on the preliminary written test to begin the competition (another Kendall tradition). We watched as team after team was called to play. The games are set up as a double elimination so you have to lose twice before your team is out. To win this competition outright, we only need to play (and win) four games. Slowly, we waiting in agony for our first game. We applauded as teams came and went, but our turn seemed like it was never going to come. Just then, we are called and we are lead to the room where everything is set up. Everything had led up to this moment. We are seated at the game begins.

The first game goes by so fast, I can barely recall any questions, but we won with over 300 points. The second game came up and so did trouble. We had barely begun the game when my teammate’s buzzer had gone off before the question had been asked. The judges deliberated and we were told that because the buzzer went off, we had to answer the question- even though we didn’t know what the question was. As our captain says an answer, the judge puts his head down into the microphone and tells us, “I’m sorry that answer is incorrect.” Now we’re angry. We huddle into position, and we come back to win game two as well, but only marginally. It was no easy feat, coming back from being caught off guard. However, bad as that was, nothing would have prepared us for game three.

We have to go back into the waiting area and we are angry at ourselves for the lost opportunity. We knew there was nothing to be done, but that didn’t stop us from licking our wounds. So to get our minds off of the problem, we hit the books to drown out the echo of the faulty buzzer. We waited and waited for what seems like forever, but slowly but surely, more and more teams went out, but did not return for long. Until there were only three teams standing, and we had to face one of them twice. Our chance at game three had come and he were ready to attack.

As we sat for the game, the score was close the whole game. We were down by twenty points and there was only a ten-point question left…a double point question. This was our shot. If we answered this question correctly, we would have a tie-breaker question, and possibly win this game. The question is read and for a moment, we have the answer, then self-doubt comes in and we second-guess ourselves. We say an answer, “2 hours”, and the crowd gasps! We were wrong. The answer is four hours. We had lost the game. We now had to fight to get out of the loser’s bracket, and back into the winner’s bracket. We were back to licking our wounds and back in the now empty waiting room for our team to be called.

The time came and we were no longer smiling. We had to play (and win) two games in a row to come out on top. And we were showing no mercy. The game came up and as we saw the categories, we devised a plan of where we were going to go. We started with Escoffier. And we dominated it. We went to another category and again, we killed it. We noticed the other team’s faces had kind of glossed over; they were stunned by how fast as how determined we were to win this day. Before we knew it, the game was down to its last two questions and the score was 500 to 30. We had destroyed the other team. We play our highest game of the night with 530 points. It was glorious.

The last game was wonderful, and it felt just like the first: we had started and before you could blink, it was over and Kendall was declared the winners. We stood up to congratulate the other team for making it as far as they did and we were happy they were there to share the moment with us and all the stress that went with it. But now our day was over, and we had come out on top. As we hugged our loved ones that came to cheer us on and took photos with our coaches, Chef Altieri repeatedly told us, “no one is going to know what exactly happened here tonight, and no one is going to feel what you four have felt tonight.” She may be right that no one is going to know what we had felt that night. It was intense, it was thrilling, and I never want to have that “bottom bracket” feeling ever again, but as for no one knowing, well… That is why I am writing this blog.

The Kendall College Trust has granted me the opportunity to be a part of this team, and because of the blog-writing requirement, I can now let the school know exactly what happened that night and how great it was to be in the winner circle for the first time.

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