Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl Award

The Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl Award was established in 1996 to recognize the work of non-coach community members who dedicate their time and effort to scholastic bowl. Friends of Scholastic Bowl are nominated by members of the scholastic bowl community, and the nominees are reviewed and voted on at the annual opening meeting of the IHSSBCA Steering Committee in February. The Friends of Scholastic Bowl are honored each year at the IHSSBCA Awards Banquet. Download the Friend of Scholastic Bowl policies page for more information about the award.

The Friend of Scholastic Bowl Award was named after Rob Grierson (pictured) in 2003 because of his exceptional long-term work on behalf of Illinois Scholastic Bowl and IHSSBCA. Mr. Grierson was also the recipient of the 2001 Benjamin Cooper Quiz Bowl Ambassador Award.


Mike Laudermith
Mike (pictured above, left) has written uncounted questions and moderated at uncounted tournaments locally, statewide, and nationally.


Kraig Garber
Kraig Garber has served as the IHSA’s Executive Director in charge of scholastic bowl since 2016. He was given the Friend of Scholastic Bowl Award for exemplary service to the Illinois Scholastic Bowl community, for friendship and support through the toughest of challenges, and for always putting the best interest of our students first.


Andrew Nadig
Andrew has moderated tournaments in the Northern Illinois area for years, but his contributions to our game go well beyond his reading. Until Andrew wrote the YellowFruit statistics program, there was no single statistics program that was easy-to-learn, easy-to-setup, easy-to-use, and easy-to-publish. YellowFruit does it all, and it does it with a perfect interface. Three minutes after you open YellowFruit for the first time, you are ready to run a 24-team tournament. The Coaches’ Association thanks Andrew profusely; we’ve never had better record keeping of our history.


Em Gunter and Karan Gurazada
In a difficult year for competitions, high school seniors Em and Karan made widespread online quizbowl possible by automating crucial steps of the tournament creation process. Em perfected and documented a procedure for using CarlBot, a Discord role management system, to generate team and staff assignments. Karan developed another Discord bot, Tournament Bot, to generate game rooms on command. It’s possible to create a 12-team tournament in Discord by hand, but it could take upwards of five hours to set up the teams and game rooms. This year’s IHSSBCA Kickoff was ten times larger than that. Thanks to Em and Karan’s help, the tournaments went from blank Discord servers to fully organized and ready in less than 30 minutes.

In addition to their work building the foundations of online quizbowl, each of our honorees have comprehensive quizbowl careers. Karan and Em’s leadership with the programs at Stanford Online and Salem High Schools have been stellar examples of community leadership in the California and Virginia circuits, respectively. In addition to being honored with the Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl award this year, Karan helped lead his team to a top-18 finish at NAQT’s HSNCT, and Em was honored by PACE with the Ben Cooper Young Ambassador Award.


Tyler Vaughan
When Tyler Vaughan began to get involved with IHSSBCA work, he found himself assigned to the complex but essential position of managing NAQT State Tournament qualification. Over time, his role expanded to include organizing and directing the tournament itself. Since taking over directing the tournament, Tyler has expended an extraordinary amount of largely unseen effort to make NAQT State run well. He values recognition of teams and players, often going out of his way to make sure achievement is recognized; in 2019, he organized a series of awards to recognize the historically most successful teams over the tournament’s first fifteen years.

Outside of his work for the IHSSBCA, Tyler is a full-time question writer. Tyler travels to staff distant tournaments regularly, often filling in for missing staff at the last minute, and provides staff support hours away from his home to ensure that games get read and statistics get entered.


Marshall Mullins
Marshall’s work for Illinois Scholastic Bowl is immense. He spearheads numerous tournaments in central and southern Illinois, either as tournament director, assistant tournament director, or moderator. To everyone’s great enjoyment following state championship season and before nationals, he organizes Piasa’s annual Spring Cleaning trash tournament. As Logistics Director for National History Bee and Bowl, he helps plan dozens of tournaments in Illinois and across the country. His advice and support make Illinois Scholastic Bowl thrive.

Above all of that, somehow, is Marshall’s impossibly enthusiastic and friendly personality. You want Marshall running your tournament. You want him reading your matches. We can all gain by finding just a tenth of Marshall’s optimism within ourselves – and if we can’t find it, you know he’ll be there to help.

Marshall(left) was introduced at the banquet by Brad Fischer(right), one of the recipients of the 2013 award.


David Reinstein (right) coached from 1994 to 2011 at New Trier High School in Winnetka, where he created the still-running Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity tournaments, but his efforts to strengthen the community and improve the quality of competition for all of Illinois have been extraordinary. Reinstein served as the chair of the IHSSBCA for ten years, overseeing the creation of numerous programs and events. He has written questions for Scobol Solo and the IHSA state series, and has head edited the Masonic state series questions since 2012. His time in the scholastic bowl community, both during and after his coaching career, has been characterized by a dedicated drive to improve and to help others get the most out of scholastic bowl. He was introduced at the IHSSBCA banquet by Jonah Greenthal, a former student and scholastic bowl player at New Trier.


Tom Egan (left) received the Friend of Scholastic Bowl award from David Reinstein, former IHSSBCA Chair, who writes that, outside of his work as a coach at both Marist (Chicago) and Maine South (Park Ridge), “Tom has come through for Illinois Scholastic Bowl and the people involved in it. He has hosted, written, edited, kept stats, moderated, has pushed to make our activity more professional, and has encouraged the people around him both personally and professionally.” His contributions have included co-authorship of the IHSA Rule Book and Case Manual, long-time service in the IHSSBCA as a Steering Committee member and Ombudsman, and the mind behind the All-State program and the awards banquet.


The 2016 Friend of Scholastic Bowl Award was given to Dale Thayer (center), the Chair of the Masonic Academic Bowl. The award was presented by Nick Pitz (left), the former coach of Moline High School. Mr. Thayer was accompanied by his daughter, Cindy (center right), his son-in-law, Mike (center left), award namesake Rob Grierson (right), and almost twenty supporters and friends from the Masonic lodges of Illinois. Under his continued guidance, the Illinois Masonic State Series has grown immensely, serving over 300 teams in three classes in 2016. The Masonic tournament provides an important State Tournament experience to 30 teams annually and awards thousands of dollars each year in support to playoff-contending teams at Sectionals and State.


In 2015, Michael H. Wong (right) accepted the award from his high school coach, Dr. Noah Prince (left) of the Illinois Math and Science Academy. Michael has worked for years not only to write questions and direct tournaments, but to create innovative programs and materials for tournament directors, to mentor players, and to support scholastic bowl coaches. As interim webmaster for the IHSSBCA, he recovered and restructured the website following a crash, and coordinated the effort to rebuild the site.

The 2014 Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl award has been vacated.


The 2013 Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl award went to Brad Fischer (right) and Kristin Strey (left). Their work for Illinois Scholastic Bowl includes hosting tournaments, writing questions, staffing tournaments, and more.


In 2012, Karen Niemeier (far left) and Larry Schnorr (far right) presented the Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl plaques to Frank Conry, Neil Pavlus, and Nelson Pyle. Conry, Pavlus, and Pyle were Principals at Byron, Stillman Valley, and Winnebago who first encouraged a Masonic Lodge to sponsor a Scholastic Bowl Tournament, an effort that has grown into our current Masonic State Tournament. Those administrators also encouraged the growth of Scholastic Bowl in their region and recruited Niemeier and Schnorr, two coaches who are now in the IHSSBCA Hall of Fame.


David Riley (right) presented the 2011 Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl plaque to the University of Illinois Academic Buzzer Team, which was represented at the Banquet by longtime member Donald Taylor. The UIUC ABT was awarded the honor for the contributions many of its members have given over a long period of time to high school Scholastic Bowl in Illinois.


Sheryl and Mike Cvijanovich came in from North Dakota to be presented with the 2010 Award at the Fifth Annual IHSSBCA Awards Banquet. They were introduced by Linda Greene and Karen Niemeier. Sheryl and Michael set up a fund called Matt’s Buzzers, which gives grants and discounts to schools across the country to buy buzzer systems for their teams. The fund is in memory of their son, a graduate student at the University of Illinois who passed away suddenly in 2005.


The 2009 Award went to ACE Quizbowl Camp.


John Rathbun was presented with the 2008 Award at the Third Annual IHSSBCA Awards Banquet. He was introduced by Rob Grierson. John was given the award for managing the IHSA state tournament since 1996, co founding and managing the Peoria Area Scholastic Bowl League, and establishing the World Affairs Tournament in Peoria.


Durwin and Pam Nigus were presented with the 2007 Award at the Second Annual IHSSBCA Awards Banquet. They were handed the plaque by Rob Grierson. The inscription on the plaque reads, “For their long-time and ongoing support for Scholastic Bowl in Illinois by offering high quality buzzer systems, outstanding customer service, support for the IHSA State Tournament, support for IHSSBCA publications and tournaments, and generous donations of their time and equipment.”


Wendell Walch was presented with the 2006 Award at the First Annual IHSSBCA Awards Banquet. He was introduced by Cathy Groesch and handed the plaque by IHSSBCA Chair David Reinstein, who is reading in the picture. The inscription on the plaque reads, “For his tireless work in running the Illinois Masonic Academic Bowl (1998-2004), increasing the number of regional sites and participating schools, promoting the growth of scholastic bowl throughout the state.”


Anthony Holman, Associate Executive Director of the IHSA was presented with the 2005 Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl Award during a brief ceremony prior to the IHSA State Finals in Peoria on March 19, 2005. Presenting the award was Susan Martin, IHSSBCA Board Member and Scholastic Bowl Coach at Wheaton North. The inscription on the plaque reads, “Rob Grierson Friend of Scholastic Bowl Awarded to Anthony Holman; For improving the relationship between IHSA and IHSSBCA, overseeing the creation of a Rule Book and Case Manual, and successfully running the IHSA tournament.”


The 2004 award went to Dave Shultz and Alex Gary. On the left, Guilford coach Tom
Lundgren presents the plaque to Alex Gary. On the right, Boylan coach Susan May presents the plaque to Dave Schultz. The inscriptions read, “for establishing the Rockford Register Star Brain Games web site to support and recognize Scholastic Bowl teams and players. The web site is a model for the nation on the reporting of academic competition.”

2001 and 2002

The 2001 award went to Chuck Fabish (right). The inscription reads, “For promoting Scholastic Bowl in Central Illinois and across the state as Assistant Regional Superintendent for Peoria County.” The 2002 award went to Barron Robinson (left). The inscription reads, “The Patriarch of Springfield Scholastic Bowl. A tireless worker in the early days of Scholastic Bowl. A long time coach, official and advocate for the activity.”


Here, Jerry Vandemark is pictured with Bill Zobus, a representative of the Streator Rotary Club. The plaque reads “Friend of Scholastic Bowl … Awarded to the Rotary Club of Streator Illinois for their sustained support of Scholastic Bowl competition … Awarded October 13, 1997 by the Illinois High School Scholastic Bowl Coaches Association.” The Streator organization has sponsored an annual Scholastic Bowl tournament in Streator for many years. (Photo courtesy Streator Times Press)


Garrie Burr
Karen Niemeier presents the award to Garrie Burr, Senior Grand Warden of the Masonic Grand Lodge of the state of Illinois. The presentation was made on March 30, 1996 at the IHSSBCA Annual Meeting.