Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Shout Out to My Nerdy Past

The end of April and May is very nostalgic time for me. Back in junior high and high school this was the time of the year that state and national Science Olympiad competitions were held. It was an event that I competed in from 7th grade through senior year of high school. What made it special were the friendships it created, nearly all the close friends from high school, that I have maintained friendships with nine years beyond graduation were involved in Science Olympiad with me. Of the people in the picture to the left, taken in 1997 I am still in regular contact with 8 of them, despite the fact them we are now spread out to all corners of the nation.

At the beginning of 7th grade I was lonely nerdly outcast. During this time my family came very close to moving from Colorado to Oregon, I was depressed when didn't. I was that desperate for a fresh start. Thing finally took a turn for the better when my mother pushed me into singing up for science olympiad. Almost immediately I found a place where I fit in.

Finding a like minded group of nerdy people like me was a life changing event. Suddenly I had a place where I belonged. The experienced was enhanced by the winning, every one likes to be a winner. My team finished third in the state competition that year, which felt like a real accomplishment. The next year, 1994, we would greatly exceed this winning the state championship, technically we tied for first, but no matter it still qualified us for the national competition.
That year the national competition was held at the University of Arizona in Tucson, it would be the trip during which I would fall in love with the desert. The true magic of the trip was traveling with a group of close friends, something that really is one of life's greater joys. This trip was also the first time that a can remember flying on a plane, my family preferred to drive. As for the competition we got crushed finishing somewhere in the low 30's out of 50 teams. But that really didn't matter to us.

With a ready made clique the transition to high school was relatively easy one.
We won the state title all three year that I was in high school, in my school district you spent freshman year at the the junior high. In the individual events that composed the greater competition I won 7 state titles. For the national competitions we got to go to Atlanta, Raleigh, and Allendale, MI, finishing third and second in the nation, my Junior and Senior year.

While the winning was fun, it was the social component that made this such a special experience. The same people that are in all these pictures are the same people that are in all my wedding pictures, the same people whose names make up the bulk of the names showing up in my in-box.
My wife is now a Junior High science teacher, she is talking about setting up a Science Olympiad team for her school next year. I hope she does, I would love for more people to have the wonderful experience that I did.
About all the polyester suites in these pictures, it was a team tradition to wear them to the award ceremony.

1 comment:

VAfriend said...

What great friendships are formed in the midst of competition!! It is a great way as you said for like minded people to finally come together and be successful. In a school where the only successes are the sports programs it is hard to find success when you are not part of that. I wasn't part of the sports scene either but found a great group of friends in the newspaper and yearbook staffs. Our yearbook went to competition each year and usually won first place or honorable mention for the state each year. To this day it is hard for me to sit and enjoy looking at a yearbook because I find myself critiquing it and finding all the layout errors.