Monday, March 29, 2010

Odyssey of the Mind.

Earlier this year my daughter Amanda joined a school club for Odyssey of the Mind. Odyssey, besides being a Japanese Minivan and a book that nobody chooses to read twice, is an international academic contest that they call "sports of the mind". The details about OotM can be read here

I believe that the original goal of Amanda's team was to simply do well enough in the regional contest to qualify for the state contest. Most of the time only the top regional team qualifies for "states" but this year two teams would qualify since there were so many teams in their division. A few weeks ago the regional contest was held and Amanda's team came in second for the Long Island region. The other middle school in our school district, though, was the one which came in first. Both teams qualified for states.

Last weekend was the state competition in Binghamton, NY. Now, Binghamton is not close to Casa Rockstar but we wanted to go to support her the best we could. MrsRockstar rode the one bus for both schools up with the kids and several of the other parents. I drove up solo directly after work Friday. Five hours later I was at the hotel.

Saturday was the competition and it took most of the day. There were 19 teams in Amanda's division, all having advanced from their regional contests. I rationalized with her that a top half finish would be good and top five would be great. The rules were if a team came in 4th or 5th, they would be asked to stand up for recognition at the awards ceremony. Third would be called up to the podium for medals. Second and first would get a trophy for the school, individual medals and qualify for the World Championship at Michigan State University in late May.

The other district school in another division came in fourth. This was the highest that any team from our school district ever achieved in this competition. Then it was show time for Amanda's division. In fifth place......our other district school which beat them last time. In fourth, some other team. In third, yet another elsewhereville team. I could see the excitement leaving the girls faces as the only other teams they would name would qualify for "worlds" and they couldn't imagine that they could win that.

But. They. Did.

Second place in all New York State. Qualified for the worlds! Hokey smokes.

The girls were bouncing up and down. The went down in front of a few thousand people to get their hardware. They were so happy they could barely walk. It seemed to me as more of a bounce.

During the 4 hour ride home reality started to set in. Will the school district coin up and help out with this team going to Michigan? It isn't going to be cheap. Michigan State is 800 miles away so how to get there with all the scenery/props for the play that they perform? Bus? Plane? Car? The girls would have to miss school for this too since it is a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday deal. Most importantly, is every one this team on board with competing or do they consider that they already won by qualifying and don't need to deal with the inconveniences.

My wife and I believe that this is a once in a lifetime experience and we should do whatever we can to make this happen. This is a team competition and there are seven girls on the team. School is closed next week but decisions need to be made. I think they would all remember this forever.

PS: Since I was in Binghamton tied up in the competition and driving hundreds of miles I didn't get to do much training this weekend. I was going to race earlier today but figured that doing a run with only a few hours of sleep wasn't the best for me (especially since I can't run). This competition was a classic life getting in the way moment but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Go Mattlin Middle School!


Unknown said...

Congrats to your daughter's team. Well done. :-)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats!! I agree, its one of those once in a life time events.

Big Clyde said...

You sound like you are bursting with pride for your girl and her teammates. Yes, I'm sure she'll remember this forever.

So many fathers miss these moments due to business trips, separations or divorce, etc. It is so great that you were able to be there and to celebrate this win with her! Very cool.

How about some pictures of the hardware? What does the trophy look like?

Diane said...

Wonderful Rockstar. What a proud and exciting moment for your entire family! My daughter is in a program called Future Problem Solvers and her team just qualified for State. I have stupidly volunteered to spend a perfectly good Saturday driving and chaperoning 8 kids during this competition and I'm looking forward to the day. I hope the kids do well.

Congratultions and good luck getting all those kids to Michigan!

teacherwoman said...

Congratulations to them! How awesome!

I had friends in high school that participated in this. Smart cookies! :)

Al's CL Reviews said...

How terrific! You must be so proud.

Missy said...

That rocks! I hope everything works out and they get to go. What a great experience. Go STATE:)

Keith said...

I've read The Odyssey more than once. In fact, at least three times. And the Illiad.

Congrats on the win for your daughter's school. It would be an experience of a lifetime to go to this sort of thing.