By Seth Woods, LifeSmarts Outreach Coordinator
High school students across the country are competing in LifeSmarts state tournaments, earning automatic bids to the National Championship in Atlanta. Outreach Coordinator Seth Woods is attending several of these events and submitted this report.
Louisiana’s always been a little different: their counties are called “parishes,” Mardi Gras is a state holiday, and their laws are based on the Napoleonic Code (rather than the common law system used in the other 49 states). So I wasn’t surprised that the LifeSmarts state tournament would be unique.
For starters, this was the first year Louisiana would be hosting an in-person tournament in about a decade. Thanks to the generosity of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office and the Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition, four teams were able to meet in Baton Rouge for an exciting day full of consumer comprehension and competition. My hopes were kept relatively realistic, since no one in the room had seen the program before. Yet again, I was wrong.
The first team to arrive was a 4-H team from Live Oak High, in Livingston Parish. Armed with matching green polos, stacks of flashcards, printouts and old questions (all found on our Web site), as soon as they settled in at their table they started studying. During breaks, they even used a tablet computer to take practice quizzes together! These girls had come to play…and to win.
Next to arrive were the DECA students from Dutchtown High in Ascension Parish, followed by two FBLA teams from Acadiana High in Lafayette Parish. As business and marketing students, they all had dressed for success. But could they impress on the stage? There was only one way to find out.
The Louisiana tournament used a double-elimination bracket to determine the champion, so the first thing our teams did was draw for position. The first match would be between Live Oak and Dutchtown (a very close match, Live Oak won 115-100), meaning that the two Acadiana teams would play each other in the second match. Coach Stephanie Bennett could barely contain herself, and she was just hoping her two teams wouldn’t have to play each other again.
That didn’t happen, as Acadiana’s A-team lost their first match but edged out a very smart Dutchtown team in the elimination bracket. However, their luck ran out quickly as Live Oak stormed back through the lower bracket, thanks in part to a perfect 50-out-of-50 score in the lightning round on food portions. By mid-afternoon, we were down to our championship teams: Live Oak, and the unbeaten Acadiana B-team.
The championship was dramatic. Acadiana started the match strong, and was leading halfway through the Challenge round, but Live Oak squeaked out a 95 – 89 win. With both teams now with one loss, an extra tiebreaker round was needed. And there was no doubt about this match, thanks to a petite powerhouse from Acadiana. Thanks to her fast finger, she scored more than 100 of her team’s 150 points, nearly doubling Live Oak with a final score of 150 – 77.
At first I was genuinely surprised at how quickly the teams caught on to LifeSmarts, but then I realized these guys were ready for this. They knew their stuff, and once they got behind the buzzer it was just second nature. But that’s Louisiana for you: a little different, but a lot of fun.
The next report: Seth ventures to New England for a trio of state tournaments.