Quiz Bowl team confronts coronavirus challenges

MTHS Quiz Bowl is known as one of Pennsylvania’s best teams. Coronavirus presents new challenges—and upsides.


Members of the 2019-2020 Quiz bowl A Team, left to right: Sanya Nair ’20, Junior Aizaaz (AZ) Faiz, Will Steger ’20 and Cyril Hainthaler ’20. Photo courtesy of Missy Doll

Scotty Reynolds

The beginning of the 2020-2021 school year has seen dramatic alterations to Manheim Township’s beloved extracurricular activities. Fall sports have been extremely lucky to be able to play, almost as if it was a normal year, with the only adjustment being the wearing of masks before/after playing time, and limited spectator numbers. Yet these teams, such as football, soccer, field hockey, tennis, cross country etc., have one significant advantage over another very important extracurricular at MTHS: the Quiz Bowl team. 

This high achieving group has cemented its place in the national Quiz Bowl community but does not have the luxury of being able to occur outside. Quiz Bowl matches are regularly held inside, with 8-10 players from two teams in close proximity to each other, usually with different players touching the same buzzers, pencils, and other equipment. It is evidently difficult to meet COVID-19 compliant standards in extracurriculars. However, MTHS Quiz Bowl is being safe and practical, finding a new normal for this year’s season.

All practices and tournaments have been moved online. When asked their opinion on this change, team members Aizaaz Faiz and Deeya Doshi both agreed on the change’s mutual benefit for away tournaments. The team no longer has to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to drive to a tournament beginning at 9:00 a.m. They can simply Zoom in from their houses. Many teenagers know the feeling of being sleep-deprived, so getting a few additional hours of sleep on a Friday night certainly is an appealing aspect of online Quiz Bowl. 

One of the alluring byproducts of traveling for tournaments, however, is that students receive a sneak peek at prestigious colleges, as many higher education institutions often host tournaments. As a member of the Quiz Bowl team, I can vouch for this interest. Unfortunately, students are no longer able to explore the buildings at these colleges, which include the University of Pennsylvania or Princeton University. 

Faiz and Doshi both agreed that the practices are a little unconventional, but “so far, it’s working out.” They said that they feel as though they can do everything else they would at an in-person practice, but because of possible technological difficulties, “everything takes longer, so we don’t get through as much material.” 

This issue is certainly a common theme throughout most activities that have been forced to continue online, as both remote and in-person students see every day. In practice, Missy Doll, the coach of the team, sets everybody up in Zoom breakout rooms, simulating what would happen in a regular practice, where the team reads questions to each other in small groups. After practicing this way for a while, the breakout rooms end, uniting the whole team, where they usually play a practice game against each other. 

These practices seem to not be too dissimilar from what would happen regularly, which should prove to be advantageous for the team, especially considering their goal for this year is to win the Lancaster-Lebanon League Championship. 

Both Faiz and Doshi made it a point to recognize three amazing seniors who graduated last year: Will Steger, Sanya Nair, and Cyril Hainthaler. With their help, MTHS Quiz Bowl’s A Team was ranked 20th in the nation, poised to perform extremely well at the 2020 High School National Championship Tournament, but it was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19.

 Faiz and Doshi speak for the team, by saying that this year, the hope is to “build the team to be as good as [they] were last year.” 

Manheim Township Quiz Bowl has a dynasty-like legacy in central Pennsylvania, a substantial reputation to keep intact. Although practices may look different, taking place all on a screen, and tournaments will see a complete reconstruction, the members of the Quiz Bowl team are dedicated and passionate. They intend to study extensively, with the hope of regaining the standings of last year’s team. One recent tournament gives an extremely positive indication of what is to come this year for the team, as they just placed 5th in the northwest region, against teams of significant standing. 

The team hopes to build upon this salient win for the entirety of the season, honoring the team of the year before them. Although COVID-19 has modified what this Quiz Bowl season will look like, there is no doubt that our team’s adept and diligent students will perform exceptionally well. 

Scotty Reynolds is a member of the MTHS Quiz Bowl team.