Over the weekend, nine NJROTC cadets traveled to Tampa to compete in the State Brain Brawl Championships held at Gaither High School on February 10. Both teams set records for the CCHS NJROTC program – Cooper City 2 came in sixth, and Cooper City 1 came in third place, qualifying for nationals for the first time ever.
“It was an amazing experience,” Cadet Ensign Sarah Seng said. “Brain Brawl, especially at states, is where a bunch of ROTC kids in Florida can come together and share all the work we’ve done, and our team made Cowboy Battalion history by qualifying for nationals.”
Much like jeopardy contestants, Brain Brawl participants must buzz in quickly to answer trivia questions in order to win points for their team. However, unlike the popular game show, Brain Brawl specifically assesses knowledge in Naval Sciences. The topics of questions range from history and current events to health and science, and the teams can be tested on content from any of three Naval Science Textbooks.
The teams are determined after cadets participate in practice rounds to see who performs the best in a jeopardy-style setting, and each team consists of one student from each grade level. Cadets John Lystad, Natalia Aguirre, Sarah Seng and Paige Manta competed on Cooper City 1, while Cullen Chamberlain, Hannah Sarver, Sarah Garcia, Nicholas Preston and alternate Kevin Huynh comprised Cooper City 2.
“After the first competition [I] went to two years ago, I loved it,” Cadet Commander Cullen Chamberlain said. “It was a great way to show the knowledge we learn in NJROTC, the small teams helped to develop camaraderie among us, the competitions were a lot of fun because of how fierce the competition is between us and the competitors, and the bonus questions that are involved with the competition were also a great fun factor.”
“If I’ve gained anything from this [it] is that if you put your mind and energy to it, you really can accomplish the impossible.”
Leading up to the State Championship, NJROTC had been having a successful season, placing second place at the Flanagan competition, and co-hosting a Brain Brawl of their own. However, due to Hurricane Irma, many of the competitions that they had planned to attend were cancelled.
Though they were unable to compete as much as they would have liked, the teams continued their weekly academic practices and studied independently to prepare for the high-pressure “toss-up” and “lighting” rounds.
At the state championship the teams compete in brackets, with only the top 24 teams progressing after the first three rounds and then quarterfinals, semifinals and finals following. After the first two rounds Cooper City 1 made a drastic comeback, and though they placed third in the semifinals, they won in the loser’s bracket, securing a spot in the finals.
In the end, the hard work of both teams seemed to have paid off.
“As of today, this is perhaps the greatest accomplishment we have underneath our belts,” Academic Team Commander John Lystad said. “If I’ve gained anything from this [it] is that if you put your mind and energy to it, you really can accomplish the impossible.”
Photo by The Lariat photography