Geneva HS students win NYS MasterMinds

Ever wonder how those College Bowl teams and quiz show contestants can come up with answers so quickly?Look no farther than Geneva High School.For years, Geneva High School students have been ringing in to answer questions in the MasterMinds Competition and they have been getting the right answer many more times than not. In fact, Geneva High students have won the MasterMinds league competition in 10 of the past 12 years, including this year. They finished second in the only two years they didn’t win.MasterMinds is an academic competition for high school students, similar to the old GE College Bowl. MasterMinds uses a format in which players ring in to answer and try to earn their team bonus questions. For details and league standings, go to nymasterminds.com.There are six MasterMinds meets from September to May. Two teams of four students each from six schools attend meets and play two 28-minute halves. Geneva High’s team has 18 students, including a varsity and junior varsity.Interestingly, the team members decide who will compete at each meet.Wearing a MasterMinds T-shirt, Victoria Lehman, Latin teacher at Geneva Middle School and Geneva High, recently talked about her first year as the coach of the team.She says that practice and more practice is the key to the team’s motivation and success. Her coaching philosophy is simple: Win Baby Win! “We play to win,” she added, “but we make it fun, too.”Led by senior Philip Lindberg, this year’s team again won the regular season Rochester League 5 championship, but lost in the playoff contest by one question to much-larger Rush Henrietta, last year’s finalist. “That’s not a knowledge issue,” Lehman explained, “it’s a buzzer issue.”Lindberg, who plans to attend Finger Lakes Community College next year for engineering, completed his third year on the team and emerged this year as the league’s top scorer with 450 points. He averaged 20 points per half and once scored 80 points in one game.What type of questions can you expect? “Anything from the lives of German physicists to medieval Japanese literature,” he said.But even Lindberg had his deer-in-the-headlights moments. “I tapped out a couple of times after ringing in,” he recalled. Not very often, though.Geneva High Principal Greg Baker, who coached the team when he was a physics teacher at the high school, helped get the team started on its winning ways in the year 2000 along with co-coach Seth Joslyn. “Geneva kids are amazing,” said the proud principal. “Every year a Geneva kid emerges as a brilliant kid and a shining star in the league.” Lehman agrees. “There’s good clay here,” she added.Courtnie Elscott, a junior, competed this year for the first time. “I loved it,” she said. “I’m a knowledge-based person. It’s paradise for me.” Elscott likes science, math and music and plans to be on the team next year.Philippa Lehman, whose mom is the coach, is a sophomore and has been on the team for two years. Her secret: “I read a lot … classics, newspapers, school work.” She remembers well, too.Further evidence of the Geneva success is nearby at Geneva Middle School where the Academic Challenge Bowl team finished first in its league with an 8-0 record and made it to the Championship Round of the playoffs, finishing second. The Academic Challenge Bowl is the Middle School version of MasterMinds.MasterMinds is a statewide program with leagues in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany.

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