"Inquisitive Minds" Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team Prepares for National Competition

Friday, March 4, 2011

For 10 points, name the organization founded during the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, often called a bank, and is responsible for providing the largest source of financial assistance to developing countries.  For the 20 point bonus- in “The Color Purple”, the biological son of Celie is named, who, like Olivia, is adopted by Samuel and Corrine.  Paired with a certain fruit, it names the cartilage around the thyroid.  For 10 points a piece, provide the shared name along with the person who wrote “The Color Purple.”

These are the types of questions six male students at SC State University must be prepared to answer when going head to head with other colleges during the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC). The challenge is a question and answer game that combines academic material, popular culture and sports in a format emphasizing quick recall.  African-American history and culture are prominently featured questions.

Each member of SC State’s forceful HCASC team brings their own unique and extensive knowledge base of subject areas.  Benjamin Graves, senior biology major from Cowpens, S.C., serves as the team captain and has been competing since his freshman year at SC State.  Bobby Harley, senior history education major from Blackville, S.C. and Jared Lalmansingh, physics major from Princes Town, Trinidad, have competed twice. Other team members who are competing for the first time include Jonathan Duren, mass communications major from Peoria, Ill.; De’Angelo Dinkins, physics major from Goose Creek, S.C. and Eric Shattuck, English major from Austin, Texas.

“Everyone brings something different in terms of their background, experience, major and overall knowledge,” says Dr. William Hine, HCASC campus coach.  “The students come from different states across the U.S. and internationally, and it helps in the competition where questions deal with such diverse issues, people and places,” notes Hine.

Just how did this diverse and skillful group come together? In October 2010, SC State held a campus tournament for students interested in participating in this year’s challenge.  Duren said he was interested in competing from the first day he heard about the Honda campus tournament, but didn’t have a team together.  Initially, he was upset, but as fate would have it, he would still get the opportunity.

“I actually got recruited as I was walking out of the café on the Saturday that they were having the tournament,” shares Duren. “Two guys came up to me and said, ‘we need two more people for this tournament,’ and I looked at my friend and said, ‘I really want to do this and need you to come with me.’  After much persuasion, he joined us.”

After successfully competing during the campus tournament, Duren was among those selected to compete.  “It’s kind of fun for me.  It actually gives me an outlet to a spout all of this information. As a kid I was always obsessed with trivia shows,” he says.  The “Jeopardy” fanatic also adds that while in middle school, he studied Canadian geography and frequently played trivia games with his family.  Today, this helps the geography wiz, as his teammates describe him, with answering the challenging questions.

“They ask everything from which fast food restaurant came first to which province did Canada not want the U.S. to acquire. They throw a lot of random stuff at you, and if you are well read and especially if you pay attention in your classes, you will be pretty good,” says the future sportscaster.

Although Duren and his teammates are pretty knowledgeable, there are times when they have conflicting answers upon conversing.  As team captain, Graves is responsible for making final decisions.  “There may be moments where I have to choose between answers given by my teammates, and if I’m incorrect, the person that provided the correct answer may become upset because I didn’t side with him,” he says. 

Despite the occasional conflicts, the team’s combined skill set has afforded them the opportunity to compete during the national HCASC conference in Orlando, Fla. in April 2011.  Just recently on February 5, 2011, the team took third place in the North Carolina A&T Invitational Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.  Fifteen teams took part in the competition.  SC State won the preliminary round defeating Claflin, Hampton and Winston-Salem State Universities. The team will also compete during the pre-national championship tournament on March 26, 2011 at Morris College in Sumter, S.C.

“SC State University is one of 12 HBCUs that has participated in the HCASC since its inception in 1989,” says Hine.  “It’s amazing to see the wealth of knowledge that our students bring to this competition.  We certainly have the potential to do well during this year’s competition and we will continue working between now and the second week in April to make sure we are as prepared as we need to be.”

During the national competition, the winning team will win $50,000. Since the program began more than 21 years ago, SC State teams have collectively won more than $135,000. These funds have been used to establish a Honda Room in the Miller F. Whittaker Library, which students use for practices.  Additionally, they have donated to various outreach initiatives to include the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund in 2005 and most recently, team members volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in November 2010.

Outside of winning the championship, each member agrees that they would like to gain additional knowledge to utilize in their personal classes.  They will continue to study with Hine for one hour, twice a week, while utilizing their own regimens for studying, to include reading informational publications, exploring the internet and watching trivia shows.

All of this prepares the dynamic all-male team to quickly and effectively answer questions like the ones mentioned above. If you answered The World Bank Group or International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Adam or Adam’s apple, as well as Alice Walker as the author of  “The  Color Purple”, you are correct!