Odyssey of the Mind Michigan State Finals

May 16, 2011
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All I could do was stare towards the front, frozen in my worry. I tried to joke with the rest of the team. I tried to laugh when Tiff put a ball up his shirt and looked like he was in the throes of pregnancy, but my efforts were fruitless. My mind flashed back to State Finals of the past. We were always just below the cut, sixth place, seventh place, only last year were we good enough to make it to World Finals, the Holy Grail of Odyssey of the Mind. I really didn’t want that gut-wrenching feeling of loss again. I didn’t spend twelve hours painting for nothing.

The State Director began announcing sixth place. She reached our problem, Le Tour Guide, Division II.

“South Middle School…” My whole team froze, and I’m fairly sure my face had the complexion of a ghost. That was our team. I reviewed the whole day in my head. What did we do wrong?

The day had started out normal, as normal as a competition day can be. We pulled up at the prop drop and began unloading our set. This was a laborious project. We had huge pieces and the sky looked ready to downpour any second. Just as we were getting out our Tower of Pizza-a nine foot tall tower made out of pizza boxes- I felt the smallest drop of water on my forehead. I looked up and the air was filled with the dreaded things. We panicked and shoved the tower out the back of the truck, covered it with blankets, and ran up the hill to the door. We were screaming the whole way,

“Run! Faster! Hurry!” We finally made it inside, the rest of the sets had been left in pre-staging. My mom, and coach, suggested we try the lights on the tower to make sure they work. We found an outlet and plugged it in. Only the top half lit up. We shook the base and replaced lights but nothing worked. Soon we were all standing around with perplexed looks and scratching our heads, with no idea what to do. Blake, true to his character said,

“Well, standin’ around isn’t gonna do anything. Let’s move.” Blake generally gives good advice in these sorts of things, so we took it. After that we dispersed to put on costumes and met back at staging. As far as I could tell, the rest of our Long-Term went swimmingly, our only blunder being the lights on the tower. I felt amazing. The only obstacle left was Spontaneous.

Spontaneous is the worst part of Odyssey of the Mind. It’s been the downfall of many good teams. In Spontaneous you are given a random task to do. You never know what that task may be and can never be totally prepared for it. This is what makes me the most nervous.

We walked into the Spontaneous room. The first thing we saw was the tubs of water on the table. I could almost hear the others’ collective thought. Oh no. This was bad. We had a problem with water at Regionals, and we had experienced an “epic fail” with that. Turns out our luck had stayed the same. We fumbled around to complete the task, submerge the target items with provided materials. The annoyingly buoyant Ping-Pong balls refused to stay under water. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered how even the best team would be able to do this. It seemed impossible.

We walked out of the Spontaneous room in shock, almost unable comprehend what we had just done. I knew that we had bombed Spontaneous, and our only hope was Long-Term. Thinking about this made me want to explode. I decided to stow that away and have fun for the rest of the day, since we had seven hours to wait.

The team headed out to my trailer for lunch. I’m not one to complain, but the burgers were dry and there was very little sitting room. The rest of the time we played Kemps, the best card game ever, constantly laughing and pointing at Ethan when he hid his cards. It seemed like we had forever, but Closing Ceremonies snuck up on us.

That was our whole day in a nutshell. Here I found myself back in Davenport’s gym. The Director still announcing sixth place,

“Team C!” My eyes grew wide and I let out a sigh of relief. That was the other team from our school! We were still in it. Soon she had announced fifth and fourth place and still not called my team. Things were looking up. We were almost up to third place when Blake said something brutally true and scary,

“You know, if we come in third place we have to take the walk of shame.” He’s right, only second and first place go to World. Third place would be just below the cut, yet we would still have to walk to the front and be seen by everyone in the gym. I let out a hysteric giggle, overcome by his statement.

Minutes later to my relief, the Director announced third place as some school I had never known about. This meant we were either going to World or we did so poorly we didn’t even make sixth place. We waited through each painstaking announcement, every moment getting closer to know our fate. Then, as the suspense peaked, the State Director said,

“Le Tour Guide, Division II, second place, see you at world,” I rolled my eyes she was just drawing this out, “Team A!” Cheers erupted from everywhere, most of them from my team. We got up and made the walk to the front, complete strangers high-fiving us and rejoicing in our success. At the front we stood in what was probably the happiest circle of friends on the planet. We raised our silver medals up high, and I exclaimed,

“The dream lives again!”

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