Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association

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The Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association or IHSSBCA is an organization primarily of coaches who support improvements in Illinois Quizbowl. The current president of the organization is Brad Fischer. Annual membership in the organization is typically around 300.

Mission Statement

From the IHSSBCA website:

The IHSSBCA exists to improve the quality of Scholastic Bowl competition and foster greater opportunities for collaboration, participation, and recognition.


The purpose of the IHSSBCA is to increase awareness and support of the public, school leaders, and parents for high school Scholastic Bowl competition in Illinois; to provide opportunities for Scholastic Bowl coaches to meet and cooperate in the development and communication of coaching techniques, tournament formats, and other ways of improving the quality of competition with integrity and the highest possible standards; and to promote recognition of participants, coaches, and programs.[1]


The Association was started after an IHSA Administrator suggested in 1994 that such an organization would give coaches more credence with the IHSA. Rob Grierson of Latin did much of the organizing, including sending out the first newsletter in September 1995 to 440 coaches, one at each school known to have a team.

The first meeting was held March 30, 1996, and the first elected officers were Chairman Tom Durbin of Decatur MacArthur, Secretary Cathy Groesch of Springfield Southeast, Treasurer John Rathbun of Woodruff, and Ombudsman Beth Young of Quincy.

Durbin stepped down as Chair after two years and was replaced by David Riley. After six years, Riley did not run for re-election and was replaced by David Reinstein. After ten years, Reinstein did not run for re-election and was replaced by Sharon Lorinskas. More recent chairs have been Matt Hasquin and Brad Fischer. All elected officers serve two-year terms.


Here is a non-exhaustive list of the projects which the Association has taken on over its history.

  • The quarterly newsletter Scholastic Visions[2]
Perhaps the earliest project to pay immediate dividends was the publication of an annual newsletter that included articles about happenings across the state, information that connected coaches to the often monolithic IHSA, and editorials on everything from rules to questions. Advertising from lockout and question vendors came later, as well as polls ranking the top teams. Throughout its entire run, Rob Grierson has been the editor of the newsletter.
As the digital age arrived, the association branched out onto the world wide web to speed up communication across the vast geographic divide of the state. The website keeps an up-to-date listing of tournaments in the state, as well as some in other states which may be of interest to Illinois teams. Around 2008, a Members Only Section was added to the website, allowing members to access all newsletters and a Handbook which essentially contains the best newsletter articles organized by topic.
  • SchoBowlFest
Back in 2007 after several years hiatus, it is an annual workshop and meetings for coaches across the state where coaches meet to discuss topics ranging from player recruitment, running practices, and organizing tournaments. Vendors also attend to advertise their wares.
Presented originally in 1996 at the first meeting, it is presented to an individual or group for their support of Scholastic Bowl in Illinois. The award was renamed in honor of Rob Grierson when he was elected to receive the award in 2003, two years after Grierson had received the Benjamin Cooper Academic Ambassador Award.
The IHSSBCA assembles an all-star team to represent the state. It participated at the Panasonic Academic Challenge in Orlando from 1997-2008 and has participated annually at NASAT since 2010. Team Illinois won PAC in 2007 and 2008.
The annual IHSSBCA Kickoffs are mirrored at several sites around the state in November, annually drawing over 100 teams. While no longer the earliest tournament in Illinois, for many teams, it is still the beginning of the competition season. For many years, the Kickoffs were in IHSA Format, though that changed when they used Aegis in 2008, and they have used NAQT IS since then.
In response to the need for tournaments where teams in need of improvement could find a competitive level of their own, while giving them a greater probability for success (which would hopefully translate into their program's expansion, and later improvement among other great teams), the Turnabout Tournaments were born in the late 1990s. Mirrored at several sites across the state, invitations are sent to all members except for approximately fifty teams that were very successful the previous season. Since 2010, these tournaments have used an NAQT A Set.
To give upcoming students an additional chance to compete early in the season, IHSSBCA started sponsoring Novice Tournaments in 2012. Mirrored at several sites across the state in October, invitations are sent at the beginning of the school year to all teams. Students who meet any of several measurements of previous levels of success are not eligible to compete.
Since 2002, this has been the official recognition program for the state's best players. The All-Sectional Teams were chosen at IHSA Seeding Meetings until 2014, when the process was moved online. Coaches from each of the 16 Sectionals (8 Class A small school, 8 Class AA large school) select the best 12 players as being "All-Sectional". The top 4-5 players are then advanced to a committee who select the best 20 players in each class to be named "All-State".
2005 saw a long standing project finally get under way as the first class of the Illinois Coaches Hall-of-Fame was inducted to recognize outstanding coaching careers. Seven coaches were inducted the first year, and four coaches are now inducted annually.
In 2018 the IHSSBCA began naming three coaches annually representing a small school, a large school, & at-large honoree to recognize the ongoing success of Illinois programs
  • Annual Banquet
The annual banquet is usually held in April on the campus of Illinois State University. In addition to being an annual celebration of quizbowl in Illinois, it is here where Team Illinois is introduced, the All-State honorees receive their awards, The Grierson Award is presented, and the Hall-of-Fame class is inducted.
  • Moderator Certification[9]
This is an attempt to improve the quality of game officials. Based off of the system used to certify athletic officials, moderators can become Performance Certified based on the input from coaches or other moderators who see them officiate in matches. The moderator certification program is managed by Marshall Mullins.
  • Rule Proposals
Though the IHSSBCA role with the IHSA is unofficial, the vast majority of rule proposals come from members of the IHSSBCA Steering Committee, and the IHSSBCA Chair is usually welcome as a non-voting participant at the IHSA Advisory Committee meeting.
  • Scorebooks
IHSSBCA sells bound books of scoresheets. The scoresheets are designed for the IHSA format, but are easy to use for mACF formats as well.
  • Social Media
Starting in 2012, IHSSBCA has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

See Also

External Links