A different kind of game

GW’s basketball teams didn’t have much of a postseason this year, but non-sport organizations have created a stir in national competitions. GW’s Kendo club, ballroom dancing, mock trial and trivia bowl teams are some of the student groups that brought national attention to GW this spring.

The Kendo Club won second place at the Harvard Shoryuhai Tournament. It is the biggest intercollegiate Kendo tournament in the country, said Dave Wallace, the group’s secretary.

In this traditional Japanese art, players fight with swords, attempting to strike their opponent first.

Junior Shinya Degushi established the GW team two years ago. Degushi, who now serves as the team’s instructor, placed third in individual competitions at the tournament. Yoshi Ishizuka, another instructor, made the first cut in tryouts for the U.S. National Kendo Team.

At each Ballroom dance competition, students compete at different levels corresponding to skill and experience. The four most common levels are Gold, Silver, Bronze and newcomers. Within each level teams choose a category of dance such as Latin and Smooth and within each categories each team selects some of the following dances Rumba, Cha Cha, Swing, Waltz or Fox Trot.

Team captain Yvette Thomas and her partner placed first in the Silver Latin Category of their most recent competition, which took place in March.

The spring competitions were held March 3 and last weekend at Rutgers University. Depending on the competition, there are 10 to 15 teammates.
Thomas, a senior who has been dancing since she was 14 years old, plans to graduate early to pursue her dancing career.

“To say that we all dance 15 hours a week is not an exaggeration,” Thomas said, adding the hours include time spent dancing for fun in D.C.
Thomas said social dancing helps the team win because it emphasizes technique and not the fast competitiveness that she identifies in a team like Harvard University’s.

“(Social dancing) is better than in Boston and New York, which is funny because although (schools in those cities) have better coaches, we usually beat them,” Thomas said.

Thomas and her partner qualified for the national competition in January. She said seeing professionals compete motivates her.
“Ballroom dancing is an art, and it’s definitely a sport,” she said.
The ballroom dancing team also performs at many GW events like Bhangra Blowout.

GW’s mock trial team also made an impressive showing at a national, 44-school tournament April 5-7. Two of GW’s four teams qualified this year, and one placed seventh. GW faced some of its top competitors such as UCLA and Stanford, Georgetown, Maryland, Howard and Central Iowa universities.

For competitions, the American Mock Trial Association gives each team a case to argue. Team member Mike Corradini said local universities do better in competitions because of D.C.’s political environment.

“We are better than many Ivy League (schools),” Corradini said.

After the regional competitions in February, Corradini and the team met every day for three to four hours to prepare for the championship.
Corradini, who has been on the team for two years, learned more than five roles for the tournament. The team roles include defense and prosecution lawyers and witnesses.

Mock trial gives the members an opportunity to practice for public speaking in their future careers, Corradini said. He said simply watching the teams on trial gets his heart racing. During the closing arguments, lawyers sometimes say stupid things, but they speak so well that it is convincing, he said.

” It’s a lot of fun if you like to make stuff up,” Corradini said.
The trivia bowl team did not participate in this year’s national championship, held April 20 with 11 teams, because it hosted the tournament. Hosting teams cannot participate in competitions. Because of protests in D.C. that weekend, the competition was moved to Maryland.

The team placed seventh in competitions at Johns Hopkins University April 21 against Maryland, Georgetown, University of Delaware and University of Virginia.

“College bowls help you interface with the world around you,” trivia bowl Vice President Edmund Schluessel said. “It helps you understand why the facts are important.”

The Trivial Bowl online profile asks, “How good are we?”
The answer might apply to all the non-sports groups.

“Better than at football, that’s for sure.”

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