The team, which competes in quick-recall style knowledge competitions, has “quadrupled” its numbers since then, said Ball, one of the team’s student leaders.
“It’s become an institution now,” he said. “It’s definitely become much more of a force.”
The team will wrap up its fall semester with the Thunder Tournament at the University of Illinois this weekend. It’s the first non-league competition of the year and the team will go up against some of the top teams in the country — including Michigan, Chicago and Northwestern.
“It’s kind of a way to see how we stack up against the competition,” said Matthew Church, coordinator in the A&S Advising Center and the team’s sponsor.
Quiz Bowl typically competes in an 11-team league that includes colleges and universities from Kentucky and southern Ohio. The UofL team fields two divisions: Division II, for students with fewer than 60 college credit hours, and Division I for students with more than 60 hours.
In its second year of league play, the team is undefeated.
“This year, the team is outdistancing the competition,” Church said.
Quiz Bowl’s most recent league match was in November at the Big Sandy Community and Technical College. Division I defeated Murray State, Pikeville, Cumberlands and Georgetown. Division II beat Big Sandy CTC, Georgetown, Jefferson Community College and Pikeville.
UofL graduate and Rhodes Scholar Monica Marks started the Quiz Bowl team five years ago. With Division II’s eighth-place finish at last year’s national championships, the team has had a quick rise to success.
Ball said Church and other students have done a good job spreading the word about the team to attract more participants. The team also will play host to two tournaments for Kentucky high schools this year. Those tournaments introduce students to UofL’s team and hopefully pique their interest in competing in college quiz bowl, Church said.
Like a lot of the team members, Ball had competed in quiz bowl type competitions in elementary, middle and high school. He learned about UofL’s Quiz Bowl team late in his first semester at UofL and joined.
The quick-recall style competition has opponents answer questions ranging in topic from physics to pop culture. The team practices each Wednesday and often competes on Saturdays. Each division practices for one hour, and they dedicated a third hour to trash — trivia based around pop culture, movies, comics and the like. That part of practice draws not only team members but also a few friends who like the activity.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Ball said. “We all just have a lot in common — and we’re all passionate about it.”
It’s fun to watch the team’s success, Church said.
“It’s a marvelous group of students. They’re some of the most intelligent people I know and some of the best people I know. I’m utterly thankful every day I get to work with them.”
The team will compete in several more league tournaments and national tournaments in the spring.