Quiz Bowl team offers knowledge, fun

Amelia Shirtz gets nervous and excited at the same time. Her heart starts beating faster and faster waiting for the next question. Once the next question is read, she realizes she knows the answer but can’t quite remember it. Until she realizes it and she buzzes in and gives her answer. She gets the question right and a sense of accomplishment, excitement and relief rushes over her.
“The funnest part about quiz bowl is testing your knowledge against other people,” said Shirtz.
Shirtz is a physics and French major here at NMU and was in quiz bowl in high school.
“I loved it in high school and when my professor asked me to join here, I said yes,” Shirtz said.
The main reason she involved with quiz bowl is she finds it a way to increase her knowledge on subjects she doesn’t know much about.
The NMU Quiz Bowl team will be hosting a competition against faculty members Saturday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. in the Whitman Commons as a way to raise money for the group. The quiz bowl members will compete against six faculty members: Mitchell Klett, Chet DeFonso, Andrew Poe, Lori Nelson, Harry Whitaker, and Mark Paulson. There will be two rounds of play with 20 toss-up questions per round, and each team that correctly answers a question gets a chance at a bonus question. The questions include a variety of subjects, from English to Supreme Court cases to medical terms.
Quiz bowl team advisor and modern languages and literatures professor Michael Joy, will read the questions for the competition. Joy and former student Elizabeth Holly met last school year and realized that they both had an interest in starting a quiz bowl team at NMU. Ever since, Joy has been committed to the team. Joy is only active to a certain degree. He helps with one of the two practices that are held every week by reading questions to students and organizing trips to competitions.
“This is our first year in existence, and we’re just trying new things this year to see what works,” Joy said. “With this competition, we’re hoping it will give people an opportunity to see the new team, see how fun quiz bowl and give us a little exposure to gain new members.”
The NMU Quiz Bowl team has been to one tournament since the team started last year at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. this past November and they won one game out of 12.
“This tournament was a way to get the team out there and competing with well-established teams in the Midwest,” said Joy. “I think next year the team will do a lot better once we get established better and do more competitions.”
Ryan Haskell, president of NMU Quiz Bowl, was one of the students that went to the tournament in Minnesota and was designated as the captain. He was vice president last year but took over the president position this year after last year’s president graduated. Haskell will also be participating in Saturday’s competition against the faculty members.
“I did quiz bowl in high school and liked it a lot,” said Haskell. “It expands your knowledge, and if you’ve forgotten something it can refresh your memory.”
The team prepares for competitions by having practices twice a week. At the practice one person reads through a list of a certain subject whether it be common French terms that they have to translate to English or a list of books that they need to know the authors of, they have to know specific things. They read through the lists until it’s drilled into their heads, said Haskell.
The competition is serving as a fundraiser for the team to raise money for other tournaments. There will be a raffle that anyone can buy a ticket for and they will be raffling of prizes at the competition. Among the items that are included in the raffle is an NMU sweatshirt.
Not only is this competition a way to raise money, but it is also a way to attract students to the team. As of right now there are eight students that regularly show up to the practices.
“I encourage everyone to come out and watch the match,” Joy said. “Hopefully by doing so they will see how much fun quiz bowl can be and will want to join the team.”
If students are interested in joining quiz bowl, they can go to practices on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 5 p.m. in room 311 of the Learning Resource Center. You can also contact the advisor at [email protected] or the president at [email protected]
“We are always looking for new members and there is no need for previous experience because we are always willing to train,” Joy said.

From left to right: Professor Joy, Jessica Frankowski, Stacy Milbourn, Amelia Shirtz and Andrea Wasek listen intently with their hands on the buzzer waiting for the correct answer to pop into their head. // Paul Goodrich/NW