2007 Nationals - Jesse Czubkowski's Memories

The following recollections were written by fourth high scorer, Jesse Czubkowski from Praise A/G, Garfield, NJ.

The 2006-2007 Bible Quiz season was and, to this day, remains the most important quiz season of my life. The season was a rough one. After coming off of our strong debut at Nationals 2006, we had under-preformed at every tournament we attended (Michiana, Gobblefest, etc.) We were all behind in memorization. There was tension within the team. After being together for nearly four years, people can understandably get on each other’s nerves. It came to a head at the Friendship Classic in January 2007. After underperforming yet again, we had decided to put our friendship first and all but walk away from BQ for the season. Being a senior, I wanted to quiz elsewhere and have a competitive chance at Nationals in Tucson. But God had other plans. After a lot of prayer and talk, we decided to go all in is a team. We took a March trip to the River Classic in Springfield. During the trip, our relationships were really strengthened. From then on, we worked out hardest. We lost a heartbreaker for 1st place at Regionals in May and qualified for Nationals.

The trip before the quizzing part of Nationals was exciting. We had our plane delayed due to a bomb threat and arrived at the Tucson airport in the middle of the night before the rental car agency was open. We slept on chairs until the cleaning staff woke us up with their vacuums. We drove to the Grand Canyon and I saw the most breath-taking scenery of my life. What a wonderful example of God’s artistry! One of the underrated aspects of Bible Quiz is the opportunities to travel it presents.

Of course, this whole time, I was focused on quizzing. After only having Acts 1-13 done in February, I pounded out the last 15 chapters and had a pretty thorough grasp of the concordance. Now I was realistic about our chances. We were a team that had been through a lot, and my teammates weren’t as prepared as I was. We could be a top 3 Challenger Bracket team or take our chances in the Championship bracket. A.J. and I (the other senior on my team) wanted to finish our quiz career quizzing against the best. So we went into preliminaries on Monday with our regular mind-set: take care of business. That was the first Nationals where all 40 teams had to quiz prelims, so it was a long day. I had prepared myself for Richard Ely’s questions. His National questions require patience and thorough concordance knowledge. We got through our bracket with relative ease, finishing 7-2. Our losses were to Lexington, KY and Ozark, MO, which I didn’t mind at all.

We had accomplished part of our goal. We were about to quiz against the best. I wanted to prove I belonged. On Monday night, I became frustrated. The reality was harsh: we didn’t have a good shot at top 3. It was a dream for us, but we resolved that we would do our best. Some of the highlights:

Round 1 vs. Orlando, FL: We opened the competition against Orlando. Jared Burkhalter (who would be the high scorer that year) and I traded hits the entire match. He would hit a question that asked for the verses that name Peter and John, I would hit a question that asked for the verse in which Peter and Paul quoted from Psalms, etc. I quizzed out with 110 but we lost a close game 185-150.

Round 4 vs.Lafeyette, IN: We had two-year old rivalry with Lafeyette and this match was close one. I quizzed out with 100 and was pleased that I hit the question asking for the four people who were” persuasive”. But the team that would end up 4th place proved too much and we lost again.

Round 7 vs. Tacoma, WA: J.P O’Conner and I went back and forth the whole match. I remember hitting the three-part answer: What was thorough?. We lost a nail-biter: 160-155.

Round 9 vs. Lexington, KY: This match came down to the last question. Lucas Cox from Lexington and I both had 4 correct with the score even at 95. Question #20 for 10 points. Who realiz//I hit there. I waited about 15 seconds and finished “Who realized that he had put a Roman citizen in chains?” and answered “the commander”. I got it and we won! I remember the frustration on the face of Lexington’s coach, but it was great, close game against good friends: 115-95.

Round 16 vs. Houston, TX: It was our best game at Nationals. I hit the questioned that asked to give all Cornelius’ words and a five-part answer (whose blood is mentioned?) We clicked as a team and, more importantly, we had fun: 215-15

We finished 6-13 and tied for 15th. I finished 4th individually, 15 points out of third place. To some, that might not seem like much. For us Garfield guys, we had won so much more. We were a fractured team that had disbanded for the month of February before coming together again. We had completed an incredible journey together and our friendship was stronger than ever. I’m glad that our team held it together. God taught us that winning and losing in TBQ would teach us and prepare us for victories and losses in life. Don’t fool yourself: every single quizzer will face adversity and trials in their lives.

The rest of activities were great: I was knocked out in the semi-final round of the individual tournament on the last question by a great hit from Blake Porter of Ozark, MO (I believe it asked for the 2 Old Testament scriptures that name David.) The Thursday night fellowship at Old Tucson remains to this day the best Thursday night activity ever. The Friday night banquet and awards ceremony was great. I got to participate in the East-West quiz. It’s always fun to quiz in front of 500+ people.

Of all the reasons that make this season and Nationals the most important, chief among them is preparation. I didn’t accomplish my ultimate goal of being a top-3 team in Championship bracket. In real life, you don’t always win. How you respond to that adversity is what defines you.

My involvement in TBQ has evolved into coaching. As a coach, I make sure I now equip my quizzers with the tools they need to succeed. I can help them accomplish their goals and dreams.

Winning in TBQ is great, but the travel, the friendship and the life lessons you take away from it are the most indelible marks that are left behind. I encourage quizzers of all levels out there: Bible Quiz is a taxing but rewarding investment. Do your best, take pride in your accomplishments, make friends and learn God’s word. That’s what Quiz is all about.