Clubs at New College Continue Tradition of Excellence
by Erich Barganier ‘10
It was a tense night as a subset of New College’s improv group, Comedy Friends, entered their final round at the College Improv Tournament’s 10th annual National Championships in Chicago. The group’s “Milk Routine” squad had previously won the Southern Super Regional division tournament, qualifying them for the final competition. At the end of the night, the team took fourth place overall out of 15 teams, establishing them as one of the premier college improv groups in America.
Alba Abrams, a leader of Comedy Friends, couldn’t believe their success “We were shocked in the first round when we won the South Super Regional,” Alba said. “The second, final performance was a little shaky, but we knew that we were just having fun. Improv is not something people should take too seriously – it’s fun, and we all definitely had fun on stage.”
Comedy Friends’ achievement isn’t an uncommon scenario at New College. Small class sizes actively require students to speak in front of their peers on a daily basis, which develops confidence and helps some students come out of their shell.
A variety of clubs at New College capitalizes on this skill in unique ways and the results are immediately visible.
One of the most prominent emerging clubs on campus is the New College Quiz Bowl Team. The members split into subsets to compete in “Jeopardy!”-style tournaments around the country that test students’ knowledge of topics that range from natural science to mythology to linguistics and more. The club has only been in existence for one and a half years but is already a nationally-ranked team.
The team’s latest success came when University of Central Florida recently hosted the Florida mirror of the 2017 ACF Regional tournament Feb. 18. New College was represented by three teams – Team Aleph, Team Alpha, and Team A. (The group chooses new tongue-in-cheek team “nicknames” for each tournament.)
After 9 preliminary rounds, Team Aleph was at 8-1, losing only to University of Florida’s A team, which consists of graduate students. The final round between Team Aleph and University of Florida’s Team A had particularly high stakes; the winner would take home the first-place trophy.
After 19 questions, the outcome of the tournament rested on the correct answer of a final problem. UF’s Team A pulled ahead in this crucial moment, winning the competition, but Team Aleph has probably secured a spot to compete in the ACF Nationals in New York in April.
Team Alpha finished with a record of 6-4, making them the highest ranked Division II team and winning them the DII trophy. Additionally, four New College competitors made it into the top 10 individual rankings and the New College Quiz Bowl club brought back a trophy.
While many clubs on campus focus on speaking competitively, a new chapter of Toastmasters International was established on campus and is being led by first-year Jennifer Lin. The organization provides an outlet for students looking to personally better their individual public speaking skills in an environment where they can continually challenge themselves.
The chapter primarily deals with individual improvement and the majority of activities are focused on improvised public speaking, making them an ideal alternative to clubs that require competition to advance.
Occasionally, local chapters organize contests to help encourage members to speak in high-stake settings. Lin recently helped organize one of the chapter’s first local tournaments, resulting in New College students nearly sweeping the board.
New College’s own Nora Flower and Quinn Ferguson won first and second place, respectively, in the Evaluation category, an event devoted to delivering a speech and receiving critical feedback, while Jennifer Lin won first place in the International Speech category, an event aimed at delivering a speech with the topic of the speaker’s choosing. All three New College contestants will be representing the area at the upcoming Division H contest March 25 at FCCI Insurance in Lakewood Ranch.
Active communication is at the heart of New College’s educational philosophy and students put it into practice every day, whether they are in the classroom or are competing at a national level. Jennifer Lin sums it up best: “We’re self-driven, just like New College’s academic system. It’s all about what you want and… there’s something for everyone. Public speaking goes so well hand-in-hand with New College.”