WEST POINT, Ala. – When West Point Middle School took first place honors in the recent county middle school Scholars’ Bowl tournament, 8th–grader Brodie Henry led the team, finishing as the overall high scorer of the event. There is more to the story, though—Henry had already won the same honor at the varsity level a few weeks earlier after being given permission to compete as a member of the West Point High School team!
Henry told The Tribune, “Being able to compete at the high school level has been very fun, and I’ve gotten a lot from it. I have been able to go to more tournaments and meet more people, a lot of which are some of the best high school players in the nation, who I have learned a lot from. Most importantly, however, is getting an early start to the high school level. That extra two years will inevitably help me continue to do well at the game I love most.”
West Point Scholars’ Bowl coach and Brodie’s father Lee Henry told The Tribune, “As a coach and a dad, I really couldn’t be prouder of Brodie. He’s decided that Quiz Bowl is ‘his thing’ and has dedicated himself to being the best at it that he can be.”
How did it start?
Lee Henry said that Brodie has, “just grown up around the game. Since he was in 3rd grade, he has been in my classroom after school when I’m coaching. For the first couple of years, he didn’t really pay that much attention, but I think some of it was sinking in, perhaps. Then, in his 5th–grade year, he started playing. The rest is history. Since then, he has attended Quiz Bowl camps over the summer. He writes questions that are used in other tournaments. He competes online with great players all over the country. He just loves it and wants to be the best he can be, not just for himself, but for his school and his teammates.
Brodie Henry told The Tribune, “My dad, who is also both the middle and high school’s coach, was definitely the one who got me into Scholars’ Bowl. He always cared a lot about the game and became very good at it. My dad has coached for over 20 years, the nine most recent of which have been at West Point High School, and the middle school for the past four years. Being a teacher’s kid means I have grown up around the game and went to almost all of the high school’s practices, which would usually last over two hours. I would also travel with the team to many tournaments, including multiple national ones. Doing this for over two years got me really interested in the game, and I began playing when I was only in 5th grade.”
Lee Henry added, “At last year’s High School County Tournament, when he was in 7th grade, we were doing pretty well, and I decided to let him play a little to get experience. He ended up making the All-Tournament team. I started joking with him then that he might be able to be the Varsity MVP in 8th grade. I didn’t realize that he would actually take that to heart and make it happen!
“As a coach, I let my kids know that I don’t believe in seniority. The best players are going to play, and they have to compete with one another to keep those starting spots. Brodie has worked hard and beat out some much older kids to earn the spot as not only a Varsity starter, but also the Team Captain. He has developed a great rapport with the high school players and has become good friends with them all. They really support each other and work together as a team. It doesn’t seem like they even think about the fact that Brodie is younger than they are. They just click. It’s really a great dynamic. Throughout my coaching career-–23 years now-–I’ve seen a lot of teams that deal with jealousy and bickering; big egos trying to outdo each other. We really don’t have that. Our teams, both the middle school and high school teams, are just a group of friends who work well together and support one another. That environment and team dynamic made it possible for a kid like Brodie to thrive.”
How to become a Scholars’ Bowl MVP
Brodie Henry explained, “Getting good at the game takes a lot of effort and studying. Scholars’ Bowl is often misunderstood as a game with completely random questions, but this isn’t the case. Through playing the game for a long time, you start to notice that they ask about the same things, with many of the clues in the questions also repeating. I’ve learned to take note of what comes up more than others and learn as many clues about that answer line as I can. Repeating this process for many years will pay off. I am also lucky to have a dad that cares about the game and who can help me.
“My advice to new Scholars’ Bowl players would be to do what I did to get better—learn what comes up the most and learn the clues about it. Great ways to learn these things include the website Quizdb.org and just looking through as many old question packets as possible.
“It is also really easy to get discouraged at the start, whether it’s from not scoring as much as you want, or playing an experienced team. If you stick with it, you will rapidly improve with time. My friends and I have been on the team together since we were in 5th grade and being part of a group that motivates each other will help a lot.”
When not hitting the buzzer
The MVP shared, “When I’m not playing the game, I’m usually doing fairly normal ‘teenage stuff,’ like hanging out with my friends. My teammates are some of, if not the best, friends I’ve ever had. Getting to play the game with them makes it a lot more fun, not to mention they are also good at it. If I’m not talking to them, I’m probably playing a game or listening to music.”
Proud coach and dad Lee Henry concluded, “Like I said, I’ve been coaching for 23 years now. I don’t know how many more years I’ll go, but, I’m willing to bet I’ll never have another kid who is the County Middle School MVP and High School MVP in the same year. The fact that he’s my son makes it even better. I’m sure that some folks think that I push him really hard, but I really don’t. I don’t have to. He loves the game and works hard on his own.
“Sometimes, the best thing I can do is stay out of his way. But as his middle school career ends and he starts as a ‘full time’ high school player, we’re going to focus on getting better and see how far we can go. And, he’s already told me that he wants to help me coach the new middle school players. I’ll be glad to have the help!”
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