AB History

The National Academic Bowl for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing was established in 1996 under the guidance of Astrid Amann Goodstein, who was then the Executive Director of Enrollment Services at Gallaudet. That year, only six schools participated in what was considered a competition for local schools only. MSSD won this inaugural competition.

The competition was then expanded to five regions in 1997 under the direction of Edgar Palmer and his committee. A total of 12 teams participated in the 5 regions. The championship teams from each region were then invited to Gallaudet for the national competition. The planning committee that year included people such as Donalda Ammons (who later became the President of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf), Dwight Benedict (retired Dean of Student Affairs), Stephen Weiner (retired Provost), and Robert Weinstock (currently a member of the Academic Bowl Executive Committee).

In 1998, the final round during that year and the next few years was called the gamble round in which teams were given three questions and a total of 60 points to allocate to those three questions. If a team answered a question correctly, they would be awarded the number of points they gambled on that question. Starting in 2000, Final Rounds consisted of 10 questions worth three points each. The same Final Round format has been used since then.

In 2002, three major rule changes were introduced. For the first five years of the competition, the first two rounds were tossup rounds in which the first player to buzz in got to answer the question. Starting in 2002, the current format that we continue to use today was initiated. Tossup questions were now used only in the first round. The second round saw one player on each team face off against each other. Another major rule change saw each regional tournament expand to allow a maximum of 16 teams and for the first time ever, the top two teams from each region were then invited to participate in the national competition.

Historical Feats

1997- California School for the Deaf, Riverside wins the first ever National Academic Bowl championship.

1999 - California School for the Deaf, Fremont became the first school to win consecutive national championships (1998 and 1999).

2001- Rob McConnell and Model Secondary School for the Deaf became the second school to win consecutive national championships (2000 and 2001).

2002- Timothy Woodford wins the first ever Nationals Most Outstanding Player award.

2003 - Both Jesse Saunders and Scarlett Valencia became the first former players to also coach an Academic Bowl team. Saunders coached for New Mexico School of the Deaf and Valencia coached for California School for the Deaf, Riverside.

Indiana School for the Deaf wins the first of five National Championships under Hall of Fame coaches Mary Kovatch and Chuck Daube. Pia Marie Paulone, currently a member of the Academic Bowl Executive Committee, wins the Most Outstanding Player award.

2005- Maryland School for the Deaf wins the first of five National Championships.

2007 - The first siblings to play against each other was Abigail and Hannah Worek. Abigail represented Rochester School for the Deaf and Hannah for Monroe #1 BOCES. There were also more sibling rivalries after the Woreks. They were Jonathan Ainsworth (Highland Park HS) and Charlie Ainsworth (MSAD) and Lauren Berger (MSSD) and Ethan Berger (Monroe #1 BOCES).

2009- Gianni Manganelli of University High School becomes the first player to win three Regional Most Outstanding Player Awards. He goes on to win the National Championship and the Nationals Most Outstanding Player award.

2012 - Maryland School for the Deaf became the first school to win three consecutive national championships.

E.C. Drury School for the Deaf (Milton, Ontario, Canada) became the first school from outside the United States to participate. They have not missed a Regional competition since then.

2013 - Noah Valencia became the first 2nd generation Academic Bowl. His mother, Scarlet Valencia was a player for California School for the Deaf, Riverside.

Octavian Robinson became the first to win a national championship as a player AND as a coach (Player in 1997 / Coach in 2013).

Maryland School for the Deaf became the first school to win four consecutive national championships.

Ethan Sonnenstrahl became the first player to win four consecutive national championships. He also wins the Most Outstanding Player award for the first time.

2014 - A mother and son won Regional championships as coaches for different schools. Sharon Vollmar won the West Regional coaching for CSD Riverside while Scott Vollmar won the Southwest Regional coaching for New Mexico SD.

2015 - At the Southeast Regional, Cathi Holst, a coach for South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind coached in a match against her son, Brandon Holst of Model Secondary School for the Deaf.

Steven Putz was recognized as an All-Star so he joins his older siblings Lauren Putz and David Putz in winning both Regional and National honors. They are the first trio of siblings to win Academic Bowl honors.

2017- Isabella Paulone won a national championship while playing for Indiana SD, joining her older sister Pia Marie who won in 2003 and her older brother Gabriel who won in 2008. 

2018- Franco Bippus becomes the second ever player to win three Regional Most Outstanding Player awards. He also became the second ever player to win two Nationals Most Outstanding Player awards. He and his Indiana School for the Deaf team also win a second consecutive National championship.