The awards ceremony at Science Olympiad Tournaments can sometimes be misleading. If one looks only at the individual medals and judges a day, one might miss the performance of the team. Saline only took four event medals at the Northview tournament on Dec. 9 and one would have thought it was just an average day. That thought would have been totally wrong as the team actually took a well-earned sixth place.
It’s one of the better tournaments in the Midwest and teams attend from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Florida.
“We did not know how we’d do as we have many new students this year and there is a learning curve. We were pleased with four medals, but were utterly shocked that we took a sixth-place team trophy home,” coach Nath Akella said.
It turns out that nine other teams placed seventh to 10th and just missed medals. Saline had 13 top-10 finishes. Considering the top teams were in the national championship last season, Saline’s coaches were proud that Saline was only 30 points away from the “A” team of one of the top five programs in the country.
“It really reflects on how much the team has embraced our team first philosophy,” Akella said. “The team decided early on that this year it would be about our team and sometimes helping your teammates meant individual sacrifice. The bus ride home was great because we talked about how much of a team accomplishment this was and that now they have proof that they are capable of being a national contender after some corrections.”
This is only the beginning of the season and students realize there is a lot of work to do in order to be a national contender. Akella said coaches are also very proud of how much of a community effort this truly is.
“We have volunteers in many fields that come in to share their expertise in their areas. It’s been immensely popular because the students actually learn from leaders in their fields. We could use help with a coding person, an optometrist, an epidemiologist and mechanical person- if anyone is interested in helping us a few times,” Akella said.
The primary goal of the program is to share the love of science and building things. Science Olympiad adds students year-round, though varsity selections are nearly complete for this season. The main meetings are 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday.. Individual event groups self-schedule to suit their own schedules.