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South places second in National Deaf Academic Bowl

Hinsdale South High School students brought home trophies from the 18th Annual National Academic Bowl for the Deaf this week in Washington, D.C.

Not only did the team finish second among 25 teams, but also, the senior team member was named an all-star and the coaches, Kathy Craig and Jamie Nick, won the coaching award.

The team consisted of Lauren and Steven Putz from Bolingbrook, Stephania Sarkic of Stickney, and Rodrigo Scofield of Cicero. Lauren is a senior and the others are sophomores.

Lauren won an All-Star Award for the second year in a row.

“She is definitely a strong leader, who is very knowledgeable in a variety of subjects,” said Nick, who is the sign language interpreter at South.

Steven Putz’s point total was close to his sister’s.

“They motivate each other,” Nick said.

The teams compete in three rounds and are required to answer questions on topics, including science, technology, mathematics, language arts, social studies and pop culture.

“You have to be very versatile,” Nick said.

The first round is timed, with players buzzing in to determine which team gets to answer the question first. The questions are shown on a screen and the players write their answers down.

In the second round, each player on the team takes a turn competing against a single player on the opposing team to answer a question correctly.

In the third round, team members can confer, but must write down the answers to 10 questions on the same topic within two minutes.

“Our biggest rival is the Indiana School for the Deaf (in Indianapolis),” Nick said. Last year, Indiana finished fourth and Hinsdale South fifth.

This year, that was reversed and both teams moved up. South finished second and Indiana third.

The team and coaches traveled to the bowl at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. via train.

“They brought all their study materials and were quizzing each other,” Nick said.

Leading up to the national event, the team, which included alternate Daniel Eischen of Burbank, competed in the Midwest Regional Bowl in December, where South finished second to the Indiana team, but Lauren Putz was named the most outstanding player overall.

The team won a sportsmanship award.

“That reflects how well the players get along and how well they support each other,” Nick said.

The South players not only cheered for each other, they clapped when another team answered a question correctly that they had missed, she said. “That shows how great they are and how they acknowledge knowledge. As a coach, you can’t ask for anything more.”

About 25 students in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at South try out for the bowl team each year, Nick said.

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