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Little makes big impact

BY CHANDLER SHIELDS

Beyond the mind of a typical middle school student, one young man has broken records and gained knowledge that will last a lifetime.

Little

Chris Little, an eighth grader at Monrovia Middle School, has led his Scholars’ Bowl team to victory as captain. He tried out for the team his seventh grade year, made it and fell in love with it.

“My sixth grade math teacher, Mrs. Williams, recommended the program to me. After attending the try-outs, I knew it was something that I would enjoy participating in,” Little said.

For the 2011-2012 season, there are seven kids on his team:  two seventh graders and 5, eighth graders.  As captain, he has to keep the peace with students his age and younger, he has many responsibilities to rightfully uphold his title. From bounce-back questions to wild cards, Little has a lot to keep up with- his own game and how his team performs as a whole.

“As captain, my responsibilities are to submit the team’s answers during bonus rounds, dispute any items that require it and try to keep everyone positive and focused,” Little said.

Even as an eighth grader, Little has an incredibly busy schedule. He manages to juggle Pre- AP classes, piano lessons and Boy Scouts- a typical schedule of an intelligent, young man. But, surprisingly enough, through all of this he makes sure to set aside time and prepare for Scholar’s Bowl, along with spending quality time with his family.

“I try to practice at home a few days per week. My mom is the reader and sometimes I compete against my dad and brothers, Josh and Thomas, like a real competition, only without the buzzers. It’s kind of like a family game night,” Little said.

It is evident that Little’s tedious efforts are paying off. During the 2011-2012 season, Chris led his team to the Madison County Regular Season Champions as well as Madison County Tournament Champions. This is the second consecutive year the team has been given both of these titles. Since Nov. 19, Little’s team has only lost one game out of 32. Individually, Little has achieved many other awards, such as The 2011 Most Valuable Player Award and the 2011 All County Team Member Award, both being awarded to him for the second year in a row.

“Chris was given the 2011 Highest Points Scorer. According to the tournament director, he has never seen anyone in all his years that he has been director earn as many as Chris did in the season,” Chris’s mother, Margaretha Little said.

Little’s team has won several other tournaments in the surrounding areas. By winning first place at the Hoover Middle School Melee, his team qualified to compete nationally in the National Academic Quiz Tournament (NAQT) Middle School National Championship, which will be held in Chicago in April of this year.

While most middle school boys Little’s age are only concerned about getting bigger or stronger, his only concern is getting brighter. Rather than lifting weights or running miles, Little exercises his brain to make to make it stronger and more reflexive.

“Scholars’ Bowl is completely different from any contact sport. For one, it’s not aggressive at all, but two- it requires a large knowledge base instead of physical prowess. It isn’t physical. But it requires a far greater mental focus than sports. In sports, you can often read the play and then come up with a counter-measure. In Scholars’ Bowl, it’s nerve-wracking, because you don’t know what question the reader is going to ask next, ” Little said.

Little has set the bar extremely high for those that will attempt to fill his shoes next year as he proceeds to the Sparkman Ninth Grade Academy. He has achieved many goals that others will never reach in their lifetime and set goals for him that, to some, seem out of reach. He hopes to compete with the Sparkman Varsity team, as opposed to the Sparkman Ninth Grade Academy team, and eventually continue his studies at West Point with a military based occupation.

Even though Little has so many personal and team-based achievements, he still strives to continue on with the best effort he can put in. It is one of his many goals to compete at the State Championship and leave with a victory.

“I feel like the team we have this year would be a good competitor for the state title,” Little said.

Outside of Scholars’ Bowl, Little plans to take the upcoming online Jeopardy Teen Tournament qualification exam this month and hopefully pursue the adult version of the game show sometime down the road.

“I wish to learn for the rest of my life. You can never be too old to learn something,” Little said.

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