The Tennessee State University Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team participated in the National Qualifying Tournament at Spelman College in Atlanta on Feb. 3.
TSU defeated Bethune-Cookman and Savannah State Universities, but lost two close games to Morehouse College and Florida A&M University.
After an impressive performance, the team’s goal now is to become one of 48 squads from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) around the nation to advance to the National Championship Tournament in Torrance, California, scheduled for April 7-11.
Dr. John Miglietta, professor of political science, who has served as the team’s coach since 2004, said participating in this event on the national level is important because it showcases the academic talent at the nation’s HBCUs.
“The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is a great program because it measures students’ knowledge on a variety of subjects such as history, literature, sports, pop culture, science, as well as black history, culture, and literature, etc.,” he said. “It is also important for individual students because of personal and professional networking opportunities with Honda as well students, faculty and staff from other HBCUs.”
Miglietta said the team would find out the week of Feb. 12 if they advance to the national competition. Until then, he said, they will continue to practice three times a week.
Devon Jefferson, a member of the TSU Honors College who serves as the team’s captain, said understanding the strengths of each team member plays a big role in their collective success.
“I think we have a pretty good team this year,” he said. “It’s not like the strength that each individual on the team has is the only thing they know about. Each individual on this team has widespread interests which relate to the basic knowledge we need when it comes to the competition.”
Jefferson, a junior marketing major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, said being part of the TSU Honda Campus All-Star Team adds to the members’ academic experiences because of the knowledge they gain while studying and preparing for competition.
“I definitely believe that HCASC has made me better at certain things like taking certain classes and understanding them,” he said. “I might have heard something in passing at practice and then I hear the actual application in class, so it makes more sense to me when I do the work.”
Other members of the HCASC team who participated in the National Qualifying Tournament are Alexandria Ross, freshmen, economics and finance major from Memphis, Tennessee; Breanna Williams, senior, music major from Marietta, Georgia; and Terrence George Young, junior computer science major from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Also on the TSU team are Aliyah Muhammad, of Nashville, sophomore biology major; Donovan Varnell, sophomore political science major, from Nashville; and Micah Williams, sophomore, combined mass communications and military science major from Seoul, South Korea.
“We’ve got a great coach, and we’ve got a great team,” Jefferson added. “Hopefully, we did well enough at the National Qualifying Tournament to make nationals. And if we make nationals, hopefully we can bring the trophy back to TSU.”
TSU has participated in 21 national championship tournaments earning a total of $170,500 in grant money since the inception of the program in 1989.