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> it's been real, an ode to decathlon
stephanyyipchoy
post May 30 2018, 02:12 AM
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with senior year comes many good byes.
one of the hardest has been to academic decathlon. this post is an attempt to say good bye as well as give advice to my fellow decathletes (it's also a lot of rambling and word vomit ha sorry).

sophomore year: i joined octathlon on a whim. i was already stretched thin- my first ap classes, theatre, mun, clubs whose names i dont recall, but i was still looking for the place for me. and i found it. this year i met will scales, whose family cheers with the same amount of fervor as my own and whose friendship i value dearly. at the region vii(?) competition, i met joyee chakrabarti from 7L. it seems like divine intervention that we ended up sitting next to each other. by the end of 8 tests, i knew that our friendship would be legendary. bro, we have gone through this journey together and there is nothing more iconic than us: no.4 scholastic and no.4 varsity. remember her name because joyee will destroy next year. i also owe my thirst for victory to this competition. it was the first thing i came finished 1st in and man did it feel good.

junior year: i quit some clubs and had my first real year in academic decathlon. to say it was a struggle is an understatement-more aps, better roles in plays, less time. but it was thrilling. this year i met oishik and achutha, who continue to inspire me(despite what i have told them ha im not sorry) they taught me that there is no alternative to hard work. while this is something that my parents had been drilling in me since i was in diapers, being told fables and seeing this in action are two completely different things. thank you for believing in me and for showing me how to succeed. i made the state team this year and the system of support we had built was kind of beautiful. i wont lie, at first i felt a bit like an outsider- it was my first year with most of these people and the only girl to boot (#girlpower), but that evaporated quickly. in the final stretch, we had nightly skype calls that lasted until will's bedtime. we helped eachother, and because of that support- we thrived. our coaches, mr and mrs brunsell, have always stated that their goal is to shape us into a family, and in those moments they had. this is also the year i met eshan gaitonde(7L) via awkward text message asking his hogwarts house. although neither of us have gotten less awkward, we always manage to have fun bro.

senior year: boy oh boy. more aps, quit theatre, college apps, a desire to make the most of my last year. this is the year that i learned responsibility. i was the de facto captain of our team. every fiber of my being wanted to win. needed to win. not just for me but for all of the team. emily, achutha, and i had ridiculously long skype calls- making quizlets and plans. we started (almost) weekly cocohodo meeting to study and bond. this is the year harvey hit. an entire city came together and it was beautiful and it was terrifying. consequently, academic decathlon was put on hold. nights were for studying, days were for support. quickly, too quickly, the first scrimmage happened. and samuel freaking steinman-friedman stole 1st from me. how rude. cue another awkward message and a friendship was born. many africa curriculumn puns later (the best was "i am a fela cutie" bc i am hilarious) and we were pretty solid frenemies. i did get the satisfaction of always foiling his plan for a perfect 1st place sweep. feels bad man. once the state team was established, the biggest issue was motivation. the answer? camaraderie. as we became closer, the effort increased. with every wall sit competition and stupid joke from andrew hewitt, we became a unit. with every reminder i sent in the group and every shoe i threatened to throw, we became a family. this years state was probably the experience i have had thus far. immediatley upon arrival, i burned a hole in my team shirt, which pretty much set the tone for the trip. i spent time with my second team (7L- sorry brunsells) and my team- my family. i also got blocked by sam for being a "distraction". i sat next to sri for the 3rd competiton(not in a row but it was stilll wild). i was recognized by strangers (shout out to clear lake for boositng my ego yall are the best) i had the worst speech/interview experience of my life like it was pretty crazy. but it was okay. we were okay through the testing anxiety, and the arguments(waking ashna and i up in the morning is hazardous- sorry emily and sakshi), and the ups and downs that come with academic decathlon because we were together. because we were there to support eachother and laugh at (not with) eachother and it made it worth it in the end.

ok i know this was tedious to read and i lowkey dont expect anyone to have read it but now with the actual advice from a now former decathlete (yikes)

do not be afraid to talk to people from different teams. i cannot stress this enough!!! throughout my years, people from outside as well as within my team have made acdec so enjoyable. particularly 7L who adopted me yall are truly the coolest team in texas (sorry taylor ik im a traitor w/e). also sam from dulles- a gigantic nerd and also my motivator this year. i never managed to beat him but if we weren't friends im 100% percent sure i wouldve lagged more than i did. facing off against a friend is much more fun than a stranger- trust me. also everyone ive talked to/dmed over the years has given me a unique perspective on acdec so thanks for that yall. so talk to the person sitting next to you during testing. talk to the stressed kid during subs (i ended up giving my meme speech to a team of strangers lmao). talk to the person whose name keeps getting called to get an award. dm that kid whos instagram you creepily found after looking at their scores on the wiki.

your team will be your family if you let them. i am privileged to have the brunsells as coaches who have made this their goal. knowing that their is a team who has your back regardless makes this experience much more rewarding. although you test alone, you are a team. you will laugh and cry and shout together. help each other succeed because 1 person can't carry a team. that's why it's a team. working for yourself is okay. but working for others is incredible.

appreciate your coaches. they are your mentors and your friends (it sounds cliche but w/e). there is honestly nothing worse than disappointing them, so try not to. being a coach is hard. dealing w all these kids is hard. they are also incredible people and want to see your name on that slide, so don't blow them off!!!!!!!! i am so grateful to the brunsells for everything that they have offered my over these years .

lastly, just enjoy it. enjoy ranting about usad and laughing with friends and spilling coffee during bus rides. enjoy all the good memories and dont forget the bad ones. acdec has been such a wild ride and im so grateful for everything. now, on to new things in boston.

stephany yipchoy
coolest tx scholastic (fight me!)
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zzzptm
post May 30 2018, 05:00 PM
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Hey, I was a Scholastic back in 1986, so we'll have to work out some sort of timeframe for that "coolest" title. emot-smug.gif

32 years on, and I still relish the time I had as a competitor. Truly golden moments, and it always makes me happy to see others that tasted from the cup of AcDec. Win or lose, speech blowout or essay meltdown, it's all part of the rich pageant.

Cheers to you!


--------------------
"The world could perish if people only worked on things that were easy to handle." -- Vladimir Savchenko
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TinDefacto
post May 30 2018, 07:55 PM
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That was beautiful. :') I'm gettin' all teary. I love love LOVE stories like this, and these kinds of experiences are absolutely my favorite part about Academic Decathlon.

If you haven't already seen it, I shall refer you to zzzptm's own "The End" post here. It is also very beautiful.

We look forward to having you in MassDec next year. wink.gif
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Hannah_L
post Jun 7 2018, 02:24 AM
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QUOTE (stephanyyipchoy @ May 29 2018, 09:12 PM) *
with senior year comes many good byes.
one of the hardest has been to academic decathlon. this post is an attempt to say good bye as well as give advice to my fellow decathletes (it's also a lot of rambling and word vomit ha sorry).

sophomore year: i joined octathlon on a whim. i was already stretched thin- my first ap classes, theatre, mun, clubs whose names i dont recall, but i was still looking for the place for me. and i found it. this year i met will scales, whose family cheers with the same amount of fervor as my own and whose friendship i value dearly. at the region vii(?) competition, i met joyee chakrabarti from 7L. it seems like divine intervention that we ended up sitting next to each other. by the end of 8 tests, i knew that our friendship would be legendary. bro, we have gone through this journey together and there is nothing more iconic than us: no.4 scholastic and no.4 varsity. remember her name because joyee will destroy next year. i also owe my thirst for victory to this competition. it was the first thing i came finished 1st in and man did it feel good.

junior year: i quit some clubs and had my first real year in academic decathlon. to say it was a struggle is an understatement-more aps, better roles in plays, less time. but it was thrilling. this year i met oishik and achutha, who continue to inspire me(despite what i have told them ha im not sorry) they taught me that there is no alternative to hard work. while this is something that my parents had been drilling in me since i was in diapers, being told fables and seeing this in action are two completely different things. thank you for believing in me and for showing me how to succeed. i made the state team this year and the system of support we had built was kind of beautiful. i wont lie, at first i felt a bit like an outsider- it was my first year with most of these people and the only girl to boot (#girlpower), but that evaporated quickly. in the final stretch, we had nightly skype calls that lasted until will's bedtime. we helped eachother, and because of that support- we thrived. our coaches, mr and mrs brunsell, have always stated that their goal is to shape us into a family, and in those moments they had. this is also the year i met eshan gaitonde(7L) via awkward text message asking his hogwarts house. although neither of us have gotten less awkward, we always manage to have fun bro.

senior year: boy oh boy. more aps, quit theatre, college apps, a desire to make the most of my last year. this is the year that i learned responsibility. i was the de facto captain of our team. every fiber of my being wanted to win. needed to win. not just for me but for all of the team. emily, achutha, and i had ridiculously long skype calls- making quizlets and plans. we started (almost) weekly cocohodo meeting to study and bond. this is the year harvey hit. an entire city came together and it was beautiful and it was terrifying. consequently, academic decathlon was put on hold. nights were for studying, days were for support. quickly, too quickly, the first scrimmage happened. and samuel freaking steinman-friedman stole 1st from me. how rude. cue another awkward message and a friendship was born. many africa curriculumn puns later (the best was "i am a fela cutie" bc i am hilarious) and we were pretty solid frenemies. i did get the satisfaction of always foiling his plan for a perfect 1st place sweep. feels bad man. once the state team was established, the biggest issue was motivation. the answer? camaraderie. as we became closer, the effort increased. with every wall sit competition and stupid joke from andrew hewitt, we became a unit. with every reminder i sent in the group and every shoe i threatened to throw, we became a family. this years state was probably the experience i have had thus far. immediatley upon arrival, i burned a hole in my team shirt, which pretty much set the tone for the trip. i spent time with my second team (7L- sorry brunsells) and my team- my family. i also got blocked by sam for being a "distraction". i sat next to sri for the 3rd competiton(not in a row but it was stilll wild). i was recognized by strangers (shout out to clear lake for boositng my ego yall are the best) i had the worst speech/interview experience of my life like it was pretty crazy. but it was okay. we were okay through the testing anxiety, and the arguments(waking ashna and i up in the morning is hazardous- sorry emily and sakshi), and the ups and downs that come with academic decathlon because we were together. because we were there to support eachother and laugh at (not with) eachother and it made it worth it in the end.

ok i know this was tedious to read and i lowkey dont expect anyone to have read it but now with the actual advice from a now former decathlete (yikes)

do not be afraid to talk to people from different teams. i cannot stress this enough!!! throughout my years, people from outside as well as within my team have made acdec so enjoyable. particularly 7L who adopted me yall are truly the coolest team in texas (sorry taylor ik im a traitor w/e). also sam from dulles- a gigantic nerd and also my motivator this year. i never managed to beat him but if we weren't friends im 100% percent sure i wouldve lagged more than i did. facing off against a friend is much more fun than a stranger- trust me. also everyone ive talked to/dmed over the years has given me a unique perspective on acdec so thanks for that yall. so talk to the person sitting next to you during testing. talk to the stressed kid during subs (i ended up giving my meme speech to a team of strangers lmao). talk to the person whose name keeps getting called to get an award. dm that kid whos instagram you creepily found after looking at their scores on the wiki.

your team will be your family if you let them. i am privileged to have the brunsells as coaches who have made this their goal. knowing that their is a team who has your back regardless makes this experience much more rewarding. although you test alone, you are a team. you will laugh and cry and shout together. help each other succeed because 1 person can't carry a team. that's why it's a team. working for yourself is okay. but working for others is incredible.

appreciate your coaches. they are your mentors and your friends (it sounds cliche but w/e). there is honestly nothing worse than disappointing them, so try not to. being a coach is hard. dealing w all these kids is hard. they are also incredible people and want to see your name on that slide, so don't blow them off!!!!!!!! i am so grateful to the brunsells for everything that they have offered my over these years .

lastly, just enjoy it. enjoy ranting about usad and laughing with friends and spilling coffee during bus rides. enjoy all the good memories and dont forget the bad ones. acdec has been such a wild ride and im so grateful for everything. now, on to new things in boston.

stephany yipchoy
coolest tx scholastic (fight me!)


I don't usually post a lot, but this post is so amazing that I felt the necessity to say something.

Your AcDec story is awesome, and it's really cool to hear how AcDec has affected others. I absolutely agree with your advice to other future decathletes! This past year (2017-18) was one of the first times that I actually got to talk to others, and as a naturally shy person, it wasn't easy at first but it was absolutely worth the effort. I have friends who love AcDec as much as I do, and a good number of them aren't even from the same state!

Anyway, I'm so glad that you decided to post your story! It really made my day. Sometimes, I wish the medium/small school competition happened at the same place as the large school competition because it would mean I would be able to meet people like you! I wish you the best in Boston, and I'm sure MassDec will love to have you!


--------------------
Hannah Lee
Wakeland High School Honors
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