Published on March 29th, 2012 | by Staff 12-130
As the month of March comes to an end, so does the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament, nicknamed March Madness. For teachers at Samo each year, the March Madness competition brings about a string of insulting emails and disappointment after disappointment, as teachers realize how little they know about college basketball.
Many teachers and faculty submitted their picks this year in an office-wide pool for bragging rights, a crown and $105 to the charity of their choice.
According to the founder of the Samo March Madness pool, history and English teacher Randy Denis, any faculty member is eligible to compete, as long as they provide the five dollar entry fee and their predictions in the bracket of the NCAA basketball tournament. Denis then evaluates the brackets and awards points to each teacher who selects the right team to win in a given round.
Last year’s March Madness winner, English and history teacher Nathan Fulcher, said that this playful activity functions as a means of raising money for charity.
“Last year, I donated my winnings to a scholarship set up for Mr. Hendrick’s children,” Fulcher said. “He was a social studies teacher here who had passed away.”
Denis has also organized the popular football pool which takes place in the fall. However, Denis does not create these events because he is a fan of the sports.
“I haven’t watched a single college basketball game all season,” Denis said. “I do it because I like the whole picking randomly and the idea that you could know nothing about college basketball and still win. That appeals to me.”
Denis enjoys not only being the organizer, but also a participant in the competition.
“I made a copy and emailed my picks to Mr. Veral before the first game was played to avoid scandal. I don’t even want to win because I’m running the thing,” Denis said. “In fact, I might disqualify myself if I was on the edge of winning, but of course I’d brag that I had to disqualify myself because I was winning.”
According to Denis, last year’s March Madness winner Nathan Fulcher began as a potential winner this year.
“Fulcher, after already winning last year, went something like 15 for 16 games on his first day. What a freak,” Denis said. “Growing up in Iowa he’s got nothing else to do but watch basketball, so it’s understandable.”
Fulcher stated earlier that he was confident that he would win once again despite his passionate competitors. However, after the third round, it seems that Fulcher is out of the competition after Michigan State lost to Louisville. Instead, statistics teacher Ken Petronis emerged as a new contender. Petronis surprisingly chose teams based on faith instead of statistical promise.
“I picked teams from the Big East because I’m a Big East fan,” Petronis said. “A lot of people after [Syracuse center] Fab Melo went out for Syracuse switched their bracket, but I stayed with them because I believed in them.”
However, Denis did reveal that March Madness competitor history teacher and senior class adviser Bryn Boyd is hungry for a win.
“Boyd really wants the crown back. She won it the previous year and didn’t get a picture taken of her with the crown on,” Denis said. “The biggest rivalry we’ve had was something between Boyd and another teacher, but he left. One year, we caught Boyd submitting two picks, one being under an alias.”
According to Boyd, however, she submitted two picks because of a discrepancy in the rules.
“The first year this was done there were no clear guidelines or rules to how many brackets could be submitted,” Boyd said.
Sometimes, as seen in the case of English teacher and Yearbook Adviser Amy Chapman, teachers have to compete against brackets picked by students.
“I had [sophomore] Elliot Baumohl pick for me. When I participate in the pool I have students pick for me,” Chapman said. “I really enjoy watching March Madness, but I’m so busy watching the Laker games that I don’t have time to follow college basketball. I chose Elliot to choose my picks this year because he was in the period where I got the email, and he said last year he won his father a lot of money, so I thought why not?”
As the fourth round of March Madness ends, Petronis is leading the pack with 132 points followed by statistics teacher Ryan Holfman with 126 points, English teacher Kitaro Webb with 122 points and art teacher Dave Jones, history teacher Jaime Jimenez and Boyd all tied for fourth place with 118 points.