By Sophie Collings
The Mattoon High School Scholastic Bowl team has undergone some major changes― they’ve received a new head coach and lost one senior member from last season. However, because of leadership and determination, the team has rebuilt itself and is even stronger than before.
“Last year we didn’t win very much, but this year…we won conference, which was a big thing. It was the first time the school has ever had Scholastic Bowl win conference,” MHS senior and Scholastic Bowl team captain Charles Derrickson said.
Derrickson describes their season as “positive” and he attributes that to not only the players’ dedication, but their new coach as well.
“Our coach has been to Nationals before, so we definitely have more resources available, and also the players have a stronger drive to practice and learn more outside of our regularly scheduled practices,” Derrickson said.
Their new coach, MHS math and science teacher Brendan Aydt, previously coached Scholastic Bowl at Cumberland High School. Aydt says the main coaching difference is in the sizes of the two teams.
“I have a lot more players on the team this year than I’ve ever had. Cumberland had 290 students in the school, so we were usually having to recruit hard just to have five or six players on Varsity and five or six on JV,” Aydt said. “It’s been nice to see more participation. It has been more challenging to get into matches and get them playing time. Also, managing multiple teams at a tournament has been a new experience for me because we rarely had that at Cumberland.”
Aydt and his team alike have faced many new challenges this season, but because of leaders, such as Derrickson, the team has been able to easily overcome these obstacles.
“He [Derrickson] has really been very helpful. He has definitely been our highest scoring player, our MVP so far. He has made the All-Tournament team at almost every tournament we’ve been at,” Aydt said. “He’s put up impressive stats as a player, and he’s also taken on a big role in organizing the team, encouraging his teammates to study and really fulfilling a lot of the roles of an assistant coach since I don’t have an assistant coach this year.”
MHS senior and Scholastic Bowl member Kirsti Wattles agrees that Derrickson is a vital and very helpful member of the team, especially in his role as team captain.
“He knows a lot, which is really good for a captain, and he knows all of the rules and all of the requirements for each thing we’re going to.
He reads up on everything, so he makes it his job to know everything that’s going on and everything that will happen. He’s very well informed,” Wattles said.
“He makes us study trivia packets, and he prints them out for everyone. He gave me these two giant stacks of packets and he’s like ‘I want you to read all these,’” Wattles said. “He wants everyone to do well, and he wants everyone to work for it.”
Wattles added that Derrickson’s encouragement keeps the team motivated to do their best. According s his leadership role has been enjoyable, but it has come with a large time commitment. He spends approximately 23 hours every week studying and preparing on his own as well as with the team. Nonetheless, Derickson still enjoys every minute of his time spent on Scholastic Bowl and sees the greater impact it has made in his life.
“I feel most certainly it has helped me grow as a person because now I am able to work with more people and communicate on a more personal level,” Derrickson said.