Nevis Knowledge Bowl teams competing virtually – Park Rapids Enterprise

Lou Ann Muhm has been the team’s coach for 22 years. “I took over from Marsha Wolff,” she said. “The biggest change has been going from one team that first year to now typically having eight teams. The program has grown hugely. This year we are down to four teams. I think some of the students weren’t interested in doing the virtual format, but it has worked OK.”

One challenge this season has been finding space in the school building for teams to compete as each team needs its own space.

“We’ve been utilizing the community education building along with some offices for the meets,” she said. “With eight teams I don’t think I could have found spots for them because there can’t be more than one team in a room. It’s all done by audio and otherwise they could hear each other’s answers. And I also have to be in a separate room where they can’t hear me because I’m reading questions to other teams.”

Teams throughout the state compete using a platform called Discord.

“Our early practices were done through Zoom and Discord when students were all at home,” she said. “I was working off two laptops at home. It was a little nuts. At least now students are in school but it’s still virtual as far as competing with other schools.”

Last year’s team got to finish their season before the shutdown. “We had finished Regions and neither of our teams qualified for state, so we were done,” she said. They canceled the state competition last year though. We didn’t know if they were going to have State this year until three weeks ago, when we found out there would be a virtual state competition.”

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“Our senior boys’ team of Derek Lindow, Jack McNamee, Daniel Aman, Dawson Andress and Reese Kline finished third in their first meet and were in the top 10 in the second meet,” Muhm said. “They are really strong in math and science but also pretty well-rounded which is why they are doing so well since questions come from all academic areas. This year the questions are coming from a different company and they’re really literature heavy. That’s affecting all schools.

“We do practice questions, but they are all from the old company with a slightly different focus. I try to coach them with a few tips and tricks, like if they ever ask about a lake in Canada the answer is always the Great Slave Lake because that’s the only widely known lake in Canada.”

She said seniors have the advantage both of having more Knowledge Bowl experience and having taken more classes.”

“It’s really hard for a ninth-grade team to advance very far because they haven’t had some of the classes yet such as American history and American literature and certain levels of math,” she said. “It’s hard for them to compete against seniors who have taken those classes.”

With experience, team members also learn strategies.

“You hit a buzzer and they learn when to ring in early and when not to ring in early,” she said.

“Students learn cooperation because they’re on teams and they all have to come to a consensus on one answer,” Muhm said. “They also learn healthy competition. And certainly they learn some interesting information. I’ve learned some weird and interesting facts that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.”

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Muhm has taken two teams to state during her years of coaching.

“That’s kind of a big deal for a school this small,” she said.

Students at Nevis School can join the Knowledge Bowl team in ninth grade. “I’m hoping we can add junior high teams in the future,” she said.

Teams typically practice after school twice a week. “It’s hard to get kids together for practice because so many of them are also in sports,”she said. “We usually start practicing in October or November, but the first meet isn’t until January. The kids are always anxious to get started.”



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