Brain over Brawn: Sports of the mind at WCHS

By Jakob Ronimous
Staff Reporter

Sports are usually physical in nature; however, a growing section of sports where participants use their heads instead of their muscles have risen in popularity. These sports have been dubbed sports of the mind. Primary examples of these sports are chess, checkers and backgammon. Many students at WCHS are also participating in sports such as Robotics Club, Scrabble Club and even Dungeons and Dragons Club.

Scrabble Club, which meets every Friday after school until 4:30 in the Media Center, is one such sport. Students who enjoy participating in Scrabble Club are playing to increase their vocabulary, which can help when writing things for English classes, and even on ISTEP.

The main organizer and teacher for the scrabble club, Tim Fish, explained more about Scrabble Club. “There’s a number of things that come into play in a game of Scrabble, first being word knowledge and basic vocabulary to begin with,” Fish said. “Although vocabulary is in there, it’s a specialized vocabulary. A lot of the things you play in Scrabble nobody ever says, but there’s also time management skills that come into play, as you have to manage a clock based on how much time you have left in a game.”

Robotics Club is another academic club that helps students hone their skills for school and work. Students who participate in the club learn how to code, which syncs up well with classes like engineering, and along with that, the benefits of learning in this club reach past WCHS. The experience they gain helps students who choose to pursue a career in fields like engineering and programming, which have been exploding with job openings.

Lane Stephenson, a junior at WCHS and a captain of the robotics club, elaborated on the value of the club.

“Not only is robotics [important] when applying for scholarships, colleges and jobs, but you learn tons of life skills, even just socializing and planning what you do throughout the week translates from robotics to school and work. Also, there’s just the experience of knowing how things work around an environments of people who are not really like minded,” Stephenson said.

In robotics, there’s a very healthy dose of competition where students work together to build a robot that does various tasks for competitions. Every year there is a different game and goal, and the students in the club build the robot completely from scratch. The closest competition is in late March. The students in robotics are currently building a robot that can load cargo, which are velcro disks and deliver balls.

Kyle Roberts, science teacher at WCHS and teacher mentor of the club, spoke about the team.

“The Robotics team competes in the Indiana FIRST Robotics Competition against 60 other teams. We have two competitions in a season to qualify for the State Championship and then possibly the World Championship in Detroit,” Roberts said. “We have off season projects to learn about potential topics that may help the team in future seasons. Community outreach is also important for the team and this is done in the off season as well.”

Robotics also compounds this with social skills, as students work in a team to help meet their competition goals. Cooperating can be a tough thing to learn, but the robotics team helps impact students who need it by working as a group for their competition. Students use the knowledge they gain from the other club meets and put them to use to solve specific tasks.

“Robotics, other than learning how to use our machinery or learn how to design or build robots […] You really learn how to work as a team and how to organize and plan what you’re about to do,” Stephenson said.

Now that sports of the mind are increasing in popularity, students who participate in clubs or activities like scrabble and robotics will be a part of this growing trend. The students will continue to reap the benefits later on in life if they choose a career where they can apply such knowledge.

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