The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America
|Calendar of Events||Outstanding Educator||Outstanding Senior||Down Memory Lane||Past AGazines|
Calendar of Events
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Outstanding Educator: Connie Giste
Congratulations to Connie Ginste for winning an Outstanding Educator Award at the 2018 AGLOA National Tournament. Here are excerpts from her nomination.
Connie started with Academic Games about 40 years ago in Detroit, as a junior coach, learning the games and helping out where she could. It wasn’t long before she was completely immersed in the program, sacrificing precious time with family in the evenings and on weekends to coach and lead her students to state and national championships. She eventually became the lead coach at that Detroit school and maintained a successful Academic Games program for years. After she retired, she introduced Academic Games to two new districts and developed successful programs at each from the ground up.
Her teaching and coaching techniques are unquestionably superb as her students and teams have thrived over the years. Her students have excelled at the games and teachers and parents have raved about the amount that her students have learned because of this coach’s efforts. However, she teaches far more than academics to her students. She teaches discipline and responsibility, things that last far beyond an Academic Games season. She expects more from her students than they do of themselves and in some cases more than their parents do, and they always deliver. Her students astonish their parents and themselves in what they are capable of. I’ve heard parents comment on how their child has demonstrated more independence at home because this coach expects it from them. I’ve heard parents comment that their child has never done this or that at home, but they do now because of this coach. I’ve seen the pride students have felt when they have been given jobs and responsibilities far beyond anything they have been trusted with before. She expects them, not their parents, to be prepared, to speak for themselves and to make eye contact while doing it. She instills in them the confidence to battle an opponent and to defend themselves to a judge and more importantly to be accountable for themselves and respectful to the people around them. I’ve heard comments at state tournaments on how her players conduct themselves in the hall, their sportsmanship at the game table and their humility and class when they took four state championships last year. More importantly, however, their parents notice the change at home. They are impressed with the confidence and maturity their child demonstrates as a result of this coach’s expectations. For her teamwork is not a request, it is expected and that means more than working together. It means it’s not “me, me, me” and “I did.” It’s behaving with class and celebrating wins with humility and grace. It’s shaking the hand of an opponent whether you have won or lost. It’s being there and paying attention as the other teammates are receiving their rewards. It’s all these subtle things that often are lost and go unnoticed but build character and make us all better people.
Her achievements in Academic Games are far too numerous to count, and she is way too humble to have kept count or boast the latest award count. However, I do know that her teams have obtained at least two first place national titles. She has led at least five teams to a 2nd and third place finish at the national level. She has had five individual first place national titles. Her state titles are consistent and plenty, with at least 20 state championship teams.
This coach is by far the most generous person I have ever known. She has made a career out of educating children and she has surpassed all reasonable expectations by continuing to give year after year into her retirement. She has given of herself in the most understated way. She doesn’t seek attention or accolades. She lets others shine and take the spotlight, when they are only there because of her and what she has taught them. Knowing her in and out of Academic Games, I know that she gives more than 100% in everything she does and sacrifices more than most would.
This coach has made such an impact in so many lives that student after student has contacted her year after year with stories of who they are and what they have done because of what she has taught them and because she believed in them. The stories are impressive and there is abundance of them. I just hope that she truly can see and feel appreciated for the contribution that she has made to so many. She gives more than ever can be repaid and even then she finds more to give.
Outstanding Senior: James Ridell
Congratulations to James Riddell, former player from Ann Arbor, Michigan, for winning an Outstanding Senior Award at the 2018 AGLOA National Tournament. Here are excerpts from his nomination by coaches Eric Nelson and Nick Wang.
We have been very fortunate this year in Ann Arbor to have a dedicated group of 12th grade Academic Games players who have gone out of their way to serve our AG community in many ways.
One of our most dedicated seniors is James Riddell. James started learning AG when he was in 4th grade at King Elementary School, starting with Equations, On-Sets, Presidents and Propaganda. He attended the state tournament his first year. As he was learning the games, he was helping his mom, Dr. Vivian Lin, learn the games, and she eventually became the coach at his school. In fifth grade, he learned the adventurous versions of Equations and On-Sets.
In 6th grade he moved up to his local middle school, Clague, and learned Linguishtik. While he was learning and practicing twice a week at Clague, he returned to King twice a week to help his mom teach new 4th and 5th graders. The King team added Linguishtik to their repertoire as he was helping out at King. In sixth grade he was on a state championship team in Linguishtik. That year he qualified for his first national tournament, held in Oglebay, WV.
As a 7th grader, he added another game, WFF’N Proof, and again attended both the state and national tournaments. With his team at nationals winning Sweepstakes, Linguishtik, and WFF’N Proof. It was towards the end of his 7th grade year that his coaches at Clague began to notice his natural leadership ability. At a time in life when most kids become more rowdy, more unfocused, and generally harder to manage, James would often take a lead in helping teach younger kids and would often be the focal point in helping his teammates concentrate on the lesson or games at hand.
As an 8th grader, he was elected as one of the team captains for the Clague team, again won multiple state championships, and helped coach the first ever elementary school (5th grade and below) team from Ann Arbor to qualify for Nationals. That year he was awarded the Orhan Oker award, given annually to the AG player or players in Ann Arbor that do the most to serve the Ann Arbor AG community.
When he moved up to high school, James again took a step forward by helping to start a new team at a local middle school, Scarlett, that did not previously have a team. Over the last three years, James has dedicated two nights a week to this team, designing lesson plans, reading educational literature on different teaching philosophies, and leading practices. The neighborhood around Scarlett is generally not as affluent as most of the other schools in Ann Arbor with AG programs, so James has had to learn many lessons about how the difference in income can impact the education of students. Although his team at Scarlett has not been as successful as the team at King or Clague, it has maintained consistent participation at both the Elementary and Middle level. This year, for the first time, two former students of James are competing on the high school team and returning to Scarlett to help coach younger players, just as James did. Also, for the first time this year, a Scarlett player qualified for Nationals.
Like most Academic Games players in the MLAG, James is very clearly exceedingly bright. But he also displays a great capacity for teaching and helping his peers learn. It is not a stretch to say that there are a number of players in Ann Arbor that would not be playing AG if it were not for the dedication that James has shown, or the patience and care he has shown in teaching and guiding them through AG for the last seven plus years.
Down Memory Lane
This letter was received just before the National Academic Games Olympics in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the spring of 1969.
ON BEHALF OF PRESIDENT NIXON, I AM DELIGHTED TO EXTEND WARM GREETINGS TO CONTESTANTS IN THE FOURTH ANNUAL NATIONAL ACADEMIC OLYMPICS.
YOU ARE TO BE CONGRATULATED ON BEING SELECTED FOR THESE INTELLECTUAL GAMES. FOR THE WINNERS THERE WILL BE GREAT HONOR, A REWARD TO LAST A LIFETIME. BUT FOR ALL OF YOU, WHATEVER YOUR FINAL POSITION, THERE WILL BE THE SATISFACTION OF KNOWING THAT YOU WERE PROFOUNDLY CHALLENGED AND MET THAT CHALLENGE WITH DISTINCTION
THE OLYMPIC GAMES ARE DEDICATED TO ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT. YOUR EFFORTS HERE WILL HELP TO SHAPE ANOTHER KIND OF EXCELLENCE, THE MENTAL SUCCESS SO ESSENTIAL TO YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND TO THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF AMERICA.I WISH EACH OF YOU THE BEST OF LUCK.
PETER P. MUIRHEAD
ACTING U.S. COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION