Things turn on a trifle

“Things turn on a trifle.” Something of little importance or value can make a huge difference to something that is of great importance and value. Just look at some AACS stories through the years, which I have seen. In 1981, David Douglas’s South Carolina team could have done better (and they finished second) if they would have known to say references before the quotes (a rule back then of which they were unaware). Things turn on a trifle. In 1989, my father’s Florida team beat David Douglas’s South Carolina team in the finals by someone incorrectly guessing by two loaves of bread. Things turn on a trifle. In 1993, despite quizzing so poorly, my Florida team could have won AACS if my teammate could have quoted Galatians 2:21 correctly. Things turn on a trifle. In 2003, Old Paths, who then began a three-year stranglehold on #2 could have started their run as champions instead if they could have answered a question from John 3:16 correctly. Things turn on a trifle.

Consider the 1981 contest. A few changes and all of a sudden Carol Calvert only has two AACS titles and David Douglas moves into that elite group of people who have won as both a quizzer and coach. Who knows, maybe he doesn’t feel the need to establish a proficiency at quizmastering and being completely forthright if he does not have that experience as a quizzer. Consider the 1989 contest. If it had finished differently, David Douglas and Paul West would then both have 3 AACS titles. Paul West would certainly not have the prowess in the conversation of the best coach ever he now does. David Douglas’s case would then be given much more dap. Not to mention the history of two great programs may have been forever altered. Consider the 1993 contest. If we had won there, who knows what would have happened to Athens’ Bible Quiz program. My sister and I would have won 3 AACS titles and my dad would have five as a coach. Then again, maybe we would have lacked the motivation to win again. Consider the 2003 contest. A different result and Old Paths would have won an AACS championship (and website co-creators David Poston and Brant Callaway would not) and that confidence may have changed their 2004 and 2005 fortune (Not to mention this website may have never taken off). If 1993 and 2003 both end differently, Jack Bamford doesn’t have any title yet and probably would not be throwing his annual New Year’s Classic.

What does all this mean? It means that legacies are forever altered by a thirty-second period. We can also see some other events and motivations may be altered by that same small time period. Now I could get into the sovereignty of God, but that is a discussion for another article. This article is about how a mere trifle can alter the course of Bible Quiz history. This year, Pleasant View came close to losing and getting 5th place at Athens. At that same event, Open Door loses on a 50/50 tiebreaker to Valley, and Valley ends up getting second and Open Door is criticized for their 9th place finish. Kentucky came close to losing a three team quiz at AACS. Things turn on a trifle, yet Kentucky continued to win. They proved themselves to be the best team, regardless of how close they were in many varied situations.

The fact is that a singular person continued to establish herself as the best quizzer this year also. Abigail Carbonell! She was the highest quizzer at every event. Things turn on a trifle? Agreed, and when someone consistently wins despite all the odds, as Pleasant View did, it must be accepted that they are the best. When legacies can be made in two thirty-second time periods and reputations lost by a quizmaster quirk, continued excellence must be recognized. If you want to look at Highest Quizzer awards, noone has bettered her. If you want to look at leading teams, she has done a fantastic job. If you want to look at affect on the other teams, noone equals her intimidation. If you want to look at the facts, it is impossible to argue that Abigail Carbonell is not among the best Bible Quizzers ever. I won’t even get into the trivial arguments about how someone’s team is better and ergo, they are better. Those are the kind of arguments that make Jose Vizcaino the best Major League Baseball player ever.

I first met Abigail at a quiz on September 8, 2001. To be honest, she was not very impressive. She was the 21st highest quizzer in a quiz that featured only 12 teams all from the state of Florida. Unfortunately for many opponents, the story does not end with her as the 21st best Bible Quizzer in Florida. The rest of that quiz year, Abby bounced between the 12th and 25th best quizzer of the month, and she tells me that she wanted to quit at the end of the year. Her mother said that she would be allowed to quit only after she gave it her full effort once. Remember, things turn on a trifle. This small encouragement forever changed the landscape of Bible Quiz.

Abigail became best quizzer in the FQA in 2002-03. She led a completely inexperienced and otherwise unheralded team at Athens NYC to 4th place as a 7th grader. She intended to come to SCQANIT, but was unable due to outside reasons. Yet the highest quizzer was from Florida whom she had individually bettered in all seven FQA events. The next year, she was the #1 Bible Quizzer in the country and led a team of all Middle School quizzers to 2nd place at SCQANIT. Last year, she was the unquestioned leader of the unquestioned #1 team in the country. This year, she was the unquestioned leader of the unquestioned #2 team in the country. In the last three years, she was the top quizzer at every event save one (2005 Colorado Invitational) and everyone considered it an upset and noteworthy that she finished #2. While I have argued that because those awards can be altered by a trifle, they are not that important, nevertheless there must be something to ALWAYS winning, much like their is something to Pleasant View ALWAYS pulling out quizzes. It just happens too often for it to be luck.

Living in Florida and helping whoever wins FACCS prepare for AACS, I saw just how amazing she was at practice. Her understanding of grammar is unapproachable. Her ability to recall a verse the quickest is extraordinary. Her competitiveness is unequaled. I have often said that a great quizzer can get you to the top five, but it takes the rest of the team to get you to #1. She was always getting her team to the top five, regardless of what anyone else did. She is graduating at the end of this, her sophomore year. And as much as I would love to watch her quiz in the FQA for two more years, she has more important things to accomplish in life than just being the universally-accepted best Bible Quizzer. In conclusion, I have quizzed and worked with some really great quizzers, all of whom came within at least a trifle of championships. To name a few–Jenni West, Valerie Wood, Matt Rexford, Jeff LeMaster, Jesse Startup, Gordon McCary, Brant Callaway, Jimmy Thompson, and many others. But, if I were starting my own team and I could choose any quizzer from any generation to be on my team with me in a life-or-death Quiz for the ages, I can’t think of anyone I would want on my team before Abigail Carbonell. Then again, we may lose on a trifle.

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.