High School Computer Competition Testimonial

Derek Griffin: BDPA Chattanooga Chapter (2005 - 2007)

[EDITOR’S NOTE – Derek is a 3-time participant in the national BDPA high school computer competition (HSCC).  He earned a Bemley Scholarship at the 2007 national competition. Ironically, his coach in 2007 was Wes Williams (2001 national HSCC champion)].

When I began training for the 2007 Chattanooga HSCC team, I knew what to expect. I had done this twice before, 2005 in Detroit and 2006 in Los Angeles, and I was excited to be going to Washington D.C. We had a new coach and we knew with a little work we could go all the way. What we did not know was that little work, turned out to be a lot of work.

We worked every Saturday morning. We determined that wasn’t enough, and it was not, and started to have practices what I believe was every night in the library. This was a lot after everything else I had to do, but I did not mind the work. However, the competition was fast approaching and I just knew it was almost over.

Our preparation for the journey to Washington D. C. was almost over. The night before we met at Coach Wes’ house, our coordinator, seeing we had to leave at 4:00am–Yes am. We worked all that night and I believe I got 10 minutes of sleep. We woke up at 4:00 am. We went to pick up our third teammate and the trip commenced. It was a hard 9-hour trip to D.C. I again could barely sleep, we got a ticket, and I finally fell asleep and heard some of the harshest words I have ever heard, “Derek you ready to study some.”

Upon arrival, we went out to socialize and “let everyone know we had arrived.” We get a little down time including watching the then newly released, 300. I started to doze, comfortable at last, and then the worst words I really ever heard, those that torment me to this very day, nearly two years later, “Derek let’s go over the code some more.”

I was ready to get this all over with, and we went in for the test, we got all but one of the oral questions, and we did very well on the written, and it became obvious all of our studying had paid dividends. However, the portion we had really trained for was the 8-hour beast, the room of doom, the only computer lab that causes nightmares, the web design competition. I was determined; I had not deprived myself of sleep for nothing. We were prepared and we performed magnificently. The only thing that surprised us was the ruthlessness of the other teams. Some teams resorted to lying to throw us off. We believed at first but it did not affect us, we gave a killer presentation and were relieved to see the end.

We went out on the town and prepared for the big night. After we were ready, we find our tables and we sit being the most confident team there. We knew we at least had second. We would have been ok with third. When announced as fifth place winners, we were so sure she had made a mistake; we did not even get up. She had not made a mistake; we were the fifth place winners. Not first but winners nonetheless, so we walked up there, some of us hobbled, we received our award, and we proudly took our seats. I know without a doubt we did our best, and though we may have deserved more, how can I argue with five-hundred dollar scholarship?