by Dave Boehler
Beacon Sports Editor
Think filling out an NCAA basketball bracket is hard?
Try doing one for Sheboygan North’s first Rock Paper Scissors Tournament.
It all came about thanks to teacher Tanya Ten Pas, who was going to hold her version of March Madness in her homeroom class.
But when a small committee got together to toss around ideas on how to get kids more engaged in school, she figured why not open the contest for all students.
And she wasn’t snickered at by the others in the meeting.
“They were on board,” Ten Pas said.
Good thing, otherwise freshman Gabe Meyer would not go down in school history as the first-ever champion.
“I thought it was interesting, fun,” he said.
Each homeroom held its own tournament to determine a winner, and that person advanced in a bracket that figured out who was best in each grade level.
So the Final Four consisted of a freshman (Meyer), sophomore (Nolan Nor), junior (Ava Helgeson) and senior (Austin Barrows).
I asked Meyer to rank his rock paper scissors ability on a scale from 1-10, and he gave himself a 5.
“My little brother is really good at it and I’ve always been horrible,” Meyer said. “He’s always beating me, to this day.”
But Meyer overcame his lack of confidence and gathered in the school’s gym with the other three finalists on March 23.
The Final Four was even livestreamed to the rest of the students back in class, and Meyer’s experience in school plays helped out.
“I’ve been in situations like this before, so I wasn’t that nervous,” he said. “I was just thinking it was kind of weird.”
There wasn’t any trash talk at the event, but cheating was suggested.
“There was one kid who was trying to bribe me for a dollar,” Meyer said. “I just said, ‘it’ll take a little bit more than that, bud.’”
Meyer pulled off the freshman-over-senior upset by beating Barrows in the semifinals. He defeated Helgeson in the final.
Meyer, who does not play high school sports and did not fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket, received a trophy, gift cards and socks with rock paper scissors details on them.
There were no press conferences afterward, so Meyer simply returned to his homeroom.
“The door was locked, so I had to knock,” he said. “I walked in and they were all screaming and clapping. It was pretty cool, interesting, funny in a way.”
There wasn’t a limo waiting for Meyer after school, either, but he did get out of his chore of walking the dog after informing his parents when he got home.
“They gave me the day off,” he said.
Next year, Ten Pas expects to hold the event again – and teachers might even have their own bracket.
“For the first year, I think it was great,” she said.
“It was so good to have some unity, some normalcy, hear the kids laugh again.”