When You Were Young

Published: Jul 2, 2013 by James Lex

In my years of coaching, I’ve been blessed to work with some remarkable young people. In Bible Quiz, typically the rules limit the lower end of this scale to 11-or 12-year olds. On rare occasions, an opportunity arises to work with a younger quizzer. This year I have been blessed to work with the best young quizzer I have ever seen.

Reagan’s older brother quizzed last year, and did quite well. She saw him quiz while she did JBQ, and thought it looked interesting. Reagan had done JBQ since 1st grade, and had reached Nationals as a 3rd grader. For a number of reasons and with her parents’ blessing, she chose to enlist in Bible Quiz this season—as a 10-year old 5th grader.

When the MSQ season concludes at the beginning of May, she will still be a few weeks from her 11th birthday. Eligibility rules prohibit Reagan from competing at District or Regional Finals, so her first season of quizzing effectively ended last week at the River Classic.

Would you like to know how she did?

Before looking at her accomplishments or statistics, let’s set the stage. Reagan didn’t merely join up with some random quiz team. She was selected to quiz with three 8thgraders. Two of these were veteran quizzers, including a young lady named Jillian who played a featured role on a Final Four A-League Team at Nationals last season. The other, Jaron, could have been the best MSQ talent in the country, if not for his more seasoned teammate. These are quizzers who were committed to the task, were on a mission to win, and had high expectations for themselves.

As if the pressure wasn’t high enough, her coach was fairly experienced as well, and had a reputation for demanding schedules, long and challenging practices, and high expectations. He was known for throwing tantrums—and pencils—at quizzers who displeased him, and he had removed lazy quizzers on more than one occasion. If MSQ had an NFL, this was it.

The goals for this team were astronomical. First place at every event, earn your memorization award, earn your discipleship award, average 220+ per game, average a minimum of 2 quiz outs per game, achieve a minimum team accuracy of 75% for the season. These were the goals of very high achievers.

Reagan didn’t blink. She immediately stepped into a role as a 10-point specialist (not because she wasn’t capable of more, but because her teammates already had two years of experience). She mastered this role to such a high level that seldom did anyone else hit a 10-pointer until she had quizzed out. Her interruptions were crisp and her answers were clean. She thoroughly mastered her quote cards to a level where she rarely missed one. In addition to 10s, she had a green light to hit reference quotes of any value.

So what did Reagan accomplish? Here are the highlights:

-Reagan completed her National Memorization Award (finishing on the same day as her teammates) -She earned her Discipleship Award (finishing ahead of her teammates) -She helped her team win 1st place at every event, save one (where they finished 2nd), and accumulate a team win-loss record of 52-7 -She scored in the top 10 at every event (as did the other two starters on her team) -She led her team with 46 forward quiz outs in 59 games (Yes, she quizzed out more than either Jillian or Jaron) -She led her team in accuracy, with a total of 82% (and correspondingly led in total correct responses) -Hitting almost exclusively 10s, she averaged 58.73 points per game -She reached the final round of the Individual Tournament at the Missouri Classic -For her public quoting, she quoted all of chapter 28 in front of the 4th and 5th grade Children’s Service at church, then coolly quoted the Beatitudes on the fly when quizzed by her Children’s Pastor

Above all, Reagan was a joy to coach. Her attitude was outstanding. She was always kind and thoughtful, yet competitive and aggressive. She was driven to see our team win, and always gave her best. When she came down sick in the middle of her final tournament, she powered through (aided by a concerned mother with medication) and stepped up when Jaron had to miss two games for Fine Arts Festival.

The most difficult part of her season is now. Having to sit and watch her teammates attempt to win without her is excruciating. She’ll be filling a role as Assistant Coach for the remainder of the year, and in practice she’ll serve as our scout team (where she gets to quiz in “god mode”—hopefully it won’t go to her head). On the bench in games, her job will be to help me pick up introductory remarks and to help her teammates recognize tendencies in the questions, especially the 10s. I have no doubt she’ll be great at those things. She hasn’t failed to be great at anything so far.

Believe it or not, I don’t write this post simply to extoll this amazing young lady (though that would be reason enough). Her mom had this to say: “I have never felt more confident in a decision. I am so glad she went for it [in Bible Quiz]. The entire experience was so good for her.” Reagan’s choice wasn’t one many would make, but it wound up being the perfect choice for her. When faced with tough decisions, encourage quizzers and families to pray, discuss, and choose, not based on fear of failure, but rather on expectation of success.

Most 10-year olds probably couldn’t accomplish what Reagan has, but the few who could ought to be encouraged to reach for the stars. Even if they fall short, they’ll still have the chance to fly pretty high.