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Exercise Science undergrads excel in the 2017 Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine Quiz Bowl

March 15, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

A team of three Arnold School students secured fourth place out of 28 teams from various exercise science programs in a quiz bowl that was held during the 2017 Southeast Chapter of American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in February. Seniors Cailyn Lafferty, Kenny Nguyen, and Jeffrey Spraker were selected by the Department of Exercise Science (EXSC) to represent the University of South Carolina and the Arnold School of Public Health.

The Jeopardy™-style competition included two rounds of clues plus a final jeopardy session. The students, who represented universities from across 10 states, were able to confer with one another on prompts such as:

This disease is caused by inadequate dystrophin in skeletal muscles.
What is muscular dystrophy?

The difference between a person’s resting and active heart rate.
What is heart rate reserve?

Danny Sauceda, a recent graduate of the Arnold School’s Master of Science in Exercise Science program who joined the EXSC department as an instructor and academic advisor in 2016, served as an advisor and coordinator for the team prior to the event and then as a moderator during the quiz bowl.

“The entire conference is designed to allow those who are pursuing careers in exercise science and sports medicine to advocate and showcase research, education opportunities, and professional experiences—and to promote health fitness in general,” says Sauceda, who observed the importance of the quiz bowl at previous meetings he attended as a graduate student. “Normally, only 20 teams are allowed to participate, but this year they allowed eight more to compete. The fact that we placed fairly high demonstrates there is interest among our students and will hopefully motivate future students to participate.”

The Arnold School team’s success also demonstrates the students’ aptitude as well as the comprehensive nature of their program’s coursework. “The quiz bowl took place just as the seniors were entering the final phase of their in-depth coursework where everything comes together,” says Sauceda. “It was the right time for them, and they were excited to apply their knowledge.”

Lafferty (picured right in the above photo), who participated in last year’s quiz bowl and plans to enter the Arnold School’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program (also in the EXSC department) after graduation, described the charged environment during the quiz bowl. “There was a large audience watching as well as several well-known figures within the exercise science world who served as judges during the bowl,” she says. “The room had a competitive atmosphere: fellow classmates and colleagues within the audience fanatically cheered for their schools, and the participating students anxiously waited as the scorekeepers updated everyone's scores after each question.”

Nguyen (pictured left in the above photo), who is also a second-year veteran of the program, plans to attend medical school after graduation. He joined the Arnold School’s quiz bowl team after receiving encouragement from EXSC Clinical Assistant Professor Raymond Thompson.

“The student bowl was a fun way of meeting new people, and I personally got to see how friendly everybody in the exercise science department was,” says Nguyen. “It's a great way to build connections with your professors, and it was cool seeing how much you really learned from all of your EXSC classes and apply them to the student bowl questions. It's something that any EXSC student would enjoy.”

Thompson also recruited Spraker (pictured center in the above photo), who conducts research with the faculty member, to participate in the quiz bowl. Post-graduation, Spraker intends to take the exam to become a certified strength and conditioning specialist as well as pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.

“The ACSM conference was such an awesome experience. Everyone there was really passionate about the field of exercise science,” says Spraker, who also had the opportunity to present research on stand-up paddle boarding alongside Thompson. “The bowl itself was really cool. It tested our knowledge of everything we have learned throughout our journey in exercise science.”