A Week Out West

Tonight, while illegally staying up past lights out to sneak in some internet action, I had the privilege of talking with Matt West via Instant Messenger. Please, noone tell the Dean of Men. I think that everyone who reads this site has met Matt at least once. He seems to go everywhere for Bible Quiz and is usually in the mix. He is a credit to my home state of Florida. I am interviewing him because I often like to accent nice weeks of Bible Quiz. A nice week is more than just a singular event that is awesome (which we had in Colorado), but also some other small events that noone has heard of. Hereafter is my interview.

George Lindsay: Before the interview, we’ve been talking about a student who is currently visiting MY school that you spoke with earlier tonight. To that student, “Don’t listen to West.” I know that PCC is way better than some silly engineering school in Texas. At any rate, let’s see what West has to say about something he knows a little bit—Bible Quiz.

Matt West: Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I think you give me way too much credit. I am not sure what I can say that anyone would find interesting, but I am an open book. Ask what you will.

George Lindsay: I think I can say without fear of contridiction that noone spends more time, energy, effort, and money on Bible Quiz. What motivates you?

Matt West: While I think some may spend more resources on quiz than I, it is true that I tend to do a lot of events. I do this because I am old enough to remember when AACS was the only tournament. Yet, I am young enough to remember the laziness of my human nature. I spent 11 months avoiding work and would learn crazy numbers of verses the month before AACS. I think the more tournaments we add (and I like to add them across the calendar, not just in February, March, and April), the more motivated students will be to study Scripture year round, which is what drives me.

George Lindsay: Speaking of driving, you have done your fair share in the last week, I understand. How much have you done?

Matt West: In just under a week, I have spent about 80 hours driving about 6000 miles. I was blessed with great company for the entirety of those miles!

George Lindsay: Who was your company and what possessed you to drive that obscene volume?

Matt West: Well, I started by driving to Colorado from my home in Sunny Florida. Map Quest (which rhymes with my name) may say it takes 28 hours, but I was determined to beat that, despite our hour delay meeting Tex at Cracker Barrel. For various portions of the trip there, Machine Gun, Julia Wagey, the entire FBCCF quiz team with Coach, and the aforemetnioned Tex were with me. We did beat 28 hours—barely—by the way!! On the way home, I learned that my wife and our new son had broken down on her way home from visiting her extended family in Florence, SC (and people wonder why I was so excited to drive to Colorado). We went from I-75 to I-95 on I-16 on our way home from Colorado and all things being finished, I arrived home about 31 hours from when we left Colorado. I would have crashed, but I had to shower, get dressed, and go teach a Mortgage class. After arriving home, I had to switch the rented van for a different rental car (my wife’s car being MIA). This is the car I would use for the trip to Asheville Tuesday night where I rode with Jesse Startup (of your very website). We then returned with an almost 10 hour trip home Wednesday evening.

George Lindsay: Wow! I’m tired just hearing about it. I’m really amazed that you are up to talk to me after all that. Please tell me about the quizzing that made you drive all those miles.

Matt West: Well, the Colorado tournament has gotten quite a bit of run, so I won’t add much to it, except to say that when Old Paths got questions 14-19 to tie it and Tim got up first on question 20, I thought I was witnessing the greatest comeback of all time. Ah, but it was not meant to be. Nevertheless, on Tuesday we had an elementary quiz. These events are always great, and this 8-team doozy was no exception. Slightly off subject, I would gladly bet that an Orlando elementary team could beat ANY elementary team in this country over their material. I would pay for the whole opposing team’s trip to Orlando, if in fact they did not. Grace D’Amico, Paige Warren, my IDS teammate Mark Jones, and Cristopher Farley each led solid teams. All are already well known in their own way, and I am confident that quizzing in Florida will be strong for a long time. On Wednesday, we had the Greenville version of our elementary quizzing in the FQA. While I have people who normally handle these events for me, I try to get to at least one a year and this seemed to be the one where none of my normal quizmasters could make it. So, I picked up Jesse Startup and we went there. We had 7 teams at this event and they were nice. The competition here isn’t quite as strong as Orlando, but nonetheless, we have some great teams and it is exciting to watch elementary students work as hard as they do.

George Lindsay: Could you tell me a little bit more about your elementary division?

Matt West: We started it, obviously, to help build programs but designed it a little bit different than the older divisions. First, we condensed the material to 220 verses. That corresponds to about one for each day when they are in school, save a final review month. We time the events such that a student who memorizes one verse every day (like a devotion) will know the entire section for the next quiz. We have always felt that getting a student in Scripture every day is the most important thing. In the 3 years it has been around, we have seen a total of 26 teams from 3 divisions participate. We have run divisions in the Orlando area, Atlanta area, and Greenville area. We try to get them all to come to the finals, but alas with the young children that can sometimes be hard. This year’s is April 29 in Orlando.

George Lindsay: I am confident Brant will assign me to watch that one. I seem to always hear about you helping in tournaments. How many quiz events do you actually help with? Which are your favorite? What do you see as your role?

Matt West: Well, to answer the last question first, I see my role as mainly helping to build programs. Therefore, I try to assist coaches in any way I can. I do not coach any teams normally, but I will help in some unique situations. God placed me in Florida and the FQA is obviously concentrated in Florida (though the number of non-Florida teams has just passed the Florida number). Therefore, I coached three different Florida ministries in three invitationals where their coach could not make it. Which leads me to the first question. I actually just checked my calendar. In 2004, I helped out in 84 tournaments. Sixty seven of those were various FQA events. There were seventeen other invitationals or association events I assisted with in some way. As for a favorite, I think it is impossible to pick one, but AACS is still the most prestigous to me, but it is also the only one I quizzed in that I still attend today.

George Lindsay: I like how you bring up attendance. Many of my friends can’t understand why I would travel so great a distance just to watch Bible Quiz. I now pose that question to you. What is the purpose of your driving great distances to do jobs that could be done by someone who lives closer? What is something you can bring to a tournament that noone else can? Is this really a ministry?

Matt West: First, I go to events because I love the motivation to study Scripture it gives to the students. I don’t necessarily believe that I am the best at any of the tasks I perform, but I am willing to do whatever. Of course, I see it as a ministry. Let me say parenthetically that one of the things that excites me most about Bible Quiz is multi-generational leadership. For those wanting to know more, read last year’s section of Acts where Paul chooses Timothy. Tinmothy wasn’t a protegee who merely was waiting for the old man to kick the bucket, he helped immediately. Unfortunately, few ministries follow this model—Bible Quiz does. I just went to a tournament in Colorado where Craig Scott, who coached against my father for years, was a quizmaster. Not only is his son of my generation, Andrew Scott, running the event, but there were people helping from ages in between and on either side of the Scotts. I love the fact that we have an activity, where the life cycle has been four years and people 12 times that far apart in age work together to run them. People of a quiz generation or two behind me (like yourself, Tex, and Brant) have put together a website that provides a whole new energy to the ministry.

George Lindsay: Very great point. Thanks for the dap. I believe that you have worked as a quizmaster, director, statistician, programmer, timekeeper, scorekeeper, coach, quizzer, and schedule writer. Which do you like best and which do you think you are the best at?

Matt West: Well, nothing will ever replace my time as a quizzer, but God does not create us to take from a ministry our whole lives. So, while I will always remember fondly (some say too fondly, as they think I way overrate our team), I like where I am at now better. I love quizmastering. I feel there is a connection made with the students that just can’t be accomplished anywhere else. Of course, as the mantra goes, a good ref is an unnoticed one. Since I am frequently noticed, I am probably not a very good quizmaster. I do think that scheduling and stats are something I do very well. From 1988-95, some outfit thought I was the best Math student in Florida for my age. Basically, that means that numbers make sense to me. As a quizzer, I was always figuring out potential score, power ratings, and what mathematical difference a rule change would make. As a helper, I am able to see numbers in unique ways. This allows me to schedule, pair, and run stat programs quickly. Not really the job I like as much, but I think I can do it.

George Lindsay: Matt, I appreciate your time and all you do for Bible Quiz. I was so happy to do this, so I can quietly forget the alphabet article part two, which people are begging me to not do, as everyone seems to think it stupid. Any parting words of wisdom?

Matt West: To the student visiting PCC, go to LeTourneau!! To all, don’t confuse perfection with excellence. Excellence you can shoot for; Perfection you should leve to God. George, thanks for all you do. Without you, I do not believe that the excitement around events would be as much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.