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The IHSSBCA Kickoff is a high school tournament held at several sites across the state of Illinois, usually in mid-November. This tournament is the traditional beginning of the Illinois Scholastic Bowl season, although since its inception, several tournaments have taken dates before Kickoff.

For several years, some sites divided teams into "large" and "small" school divisions, however, this division was left strictly to the host, and was quite arbitrary, often putting schools' A and B teams in different divisions. In particular, it did not follow the IHSA Class A (small)/Class AA (large) division system.

Excepting IHSA Regionals and Masonic Sectionals, this tournament is the most-attended (as with the others, when sites are combined) of any high school tournament in Illinois.

For the first few years of the tournament, questions were written by Triad, a company founded by Martin Stroup and two of his friends who played for Illinois in the early 1990s. The questions were in IHSA format and distribution but were significantly more pyramidal than other questions generally used at that time. Several question providers were used over the years, including a few times when the questions were written by Sister John Baricevic. Starting around 2008, the format started changing away from IHSA format.

Illinois hosted a fall tournament in 1995 directed by Martin Stroup. MacArthur defeated Quincy for the Championship, and Latin defeated Niantic-Harristown for Third Place. Stroup had played for Tom Durbin at MacArthur, and they worked together the next year to have IHSSBCA sponsor the tournament when IHSSBCA was formed and Durbin became its first Chair. Ever since the Kickoffs have gone to multiple sites, the central coordinator has been David Riley.


1996 (35 teams)

1997 (30 teams)

1998 (68 teams)

1999 (106 teams)

2000 (96 teams)

2001 (110 teams)

2002 (120 teams)

2003 (103 teams)

2004 (112 teams)

2005 (120 teams)

2006 (128 teams): Questions by Aegis Questions

2007 (128 teams): Questions by Aegis Questions

2008 (124 teams): Questions by Aegis Questions

2009 (136 teams): NAQT IS-88

2010 (156 teams): NAQT IS-98