“You have to be unafraid to be wrong”
Traditional might be the last word that you would ever use to describe Southern University at New Orleans Senior Terri Coleman. There isn’t really a neat box that she fits into and that’s just the way she likes it. Terri, who serves as lead writer for the SUNO Observer and as a member of the Honda All-Star Challenge Team is a mix of opinions, humor, sharp wit and intellect.
She has been one of the driving forces in helping SUNO’s Challengers become one of the most successful teams in the nation the last two years. The team advanced to the quarter finals last season, and her coach Amelia Sellers acknowledges that it is in no small part to Terri’s hard work. ”She really motivates her teammates. If there is a word for someone being in more than energetic, she’s that. Terri is a brilliant and unique young lady and we’re so glad to have her.”
“When I first got to SUNO, I was really kind of floating”, said Terri. ”I hadn’t applied myself in the classroom, but when I joined the Honda Team, it felt like I had found a group of like-minded people and that helped me to improve my work and admit that I like learning. What also made it so great for me is that people underestimated us when we went to competitions. My favorite part of this has been destroying that perception of what people think that we’re capable of. Doing well is much sweeter when it’s unexpected. Before people looked at us like a joke; now we’re a threat.”
Southern University at New Orleans has always accepted non-traditional students, and Terri sees that as one of the biggest strengths of her team. ”Our team just isn’t like the other one’s that we see. Some of us have more life experiences so we really just enjoy this. We’re having fun while learning the periodic table. I had no idea that there were so many elements named after towns in Sweden.”
This season, Terri expects more success for the team. ”I’m not making any definitive predictions, but I’m confident that we can do at least as well as we did last year. The older players like myself, Marc Guichard and Dalvin Ford hope that we’ve established a tradition with what we’ve been able to accomplish. We’ve worked to find freshmen and sophomores who want to compete and just love being dorky and there are some really promising players. I’ll definitely be watching from afar to see what they’re doing after I graduate.”
Recently, Terri branched out to participate in her first individual competition, The Ford 7th Annual Black College Quiz. She represented SUNO extremely well, finishing third overall and earning a $500 scholarship. ”It was pretty stressful,” said Ms. Coleman. ”Typically my area of focus is in literature and this competition really covered a wide range of topics. I’m a bit of a dork, so I don’t really keep up with pop culture, which was one of the categories. I just couldn’t tell you 50 Cent’s real name, so that was funny. Then again, a lot of the people I was competing with were just like me.”
So what makes a really good quiz bowl players? ”You have to have an interest in everything“, said Terri. ”You have to be able to think and respond quickly and you have to be unafraid to be wrong.”
It looks like SUNO’s opponents just might be the ones with something to fear.