She stops to think before responding. Nicole Wheeler, of Copperas Cove, knows she has the answer in her head.
She has prepared herself for this moment. This is her time and her team’s time to become champions — champions in the word of Christ.
Nicole and five teammates spent Memorial Day weekend competing again teams from nine districts in four states in the Nazarene Bible Quiz Regional Championship in Oklahoma City.
Nicole and her teammates, representing the Cove Church of the Nazarene, consist of four members from Copperas Cove and two from Killeen.
They are in the top 10 teams in the South Texas District, which extends from Waco down through Central Texas. The regional contest included 102 quizzers who are the top 10 in their districts from Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Patrick Wheeler is the local coach of the quizzers of the Cove Church of the Nazarene and also the South Texas District director. He spends two to three hours a week preparing his team for competition and at least one hour is spent quizzing the team on Bible knowledge.
“Most of them put in 30 minutes to an hour a day practicing at home and then we practice as a team once a week. Nearly every member of the team has memorized almost all of Roman and James, which are the chapters the competition focuses on this year,” Wheeler said.
The Cove quiz team placed in the top 10 at the district last year and competed at the regional level. Nicole, 15, returned for her fourth bout at the regional contest this year, finishing 19th nationally last year.
Her brother, Alex, 13, returned for a second year. Mallory Leake, 12, and Olivia Gorrell, 14, both competed for the first time this year. Olivia Gorrell was the only one to make a regional team, coming in third in the quiz-off that evaluates individual performance.
Wheeler said the district of quizzers is starting to grow as more Nazarene churches pick up the activity with their youth groups. The local district now consists of 45 to 50 quizzers and Wheeler is working to start other Nazarene groups. However, he said he is willing to help any denomination get a team started because, besides learning scripture, they also learn moral and ethical values.
“They are competing in a Christian environment. I have seen excellent sportsmanship. They are more concerned about getting it right rather than winning. I have witnessed a team call a penalty on itself rather than try to hide it. That’s a tremendous thing to watch,” he said.
For Nicole though, it all comes back to the work she put in to prepare for the competition since she failed to make the regional team this year.
“I have done a large amount of memorization. There’s no way I would’ve studied the Bible this much without the motivation of the competition,” she said. “But I got a real hard lesson on this quiz. I learned I needed to put even more effort into the tournament.”
The Cove team has the national tournament in its sights now as it prepares for the June 29 competition in Nashville, Tenn. The World Bible Quizzing Association oversees the tournament.
To start a quiz team in your church or to join the Nazarene church’s team, call Wheeler at the Cove Church of the Nazarene at 254-547-4032.