ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Knowledge could be a defining characteristic for Tyler Becker and his family.
Becker, a life-long resident of Galva, was an integral part of the Canton-Galva High School Scholars Bowl team this past season, and the junior speaks knowledgeably about almost anything and everything.
Becker’s parents, Mark and Kathy, are both teachers in the Canton-Galva school system. Mark teaches math and physical education and Kathy instructs English and languages.
It’s no wonder Becker is well rounded academically.
But don’t tell Becker, who maintains a place on the “Esteemed Honor Roll,” that he must always have his head in his school books.
“I guess that would be a bit of a misconception that I study more than others,” Becker said. “Sometimes I feel as though I’m just sliding by, but the thing is, my intelligence level is higher than most others so even when I slide by, I still get all A’s instead of all C’s.
“It just sort of works out that way.”
Becker has been participating in Scholars Bowl for a number of years.
“It’s really something I began doing in middle school when my dad was the sponsor,” he said. “So I guess I kind of fell into it and I’ve just been doing it ever since.”
Becker’s Scholars Bowl coach, Roberta Hamilton, said Tyler is a natural for the program.
“Tyler has a different background of materials,” Hamilton said. “He’s familiar with many categories: he has a variety of interests, he’s a high reader, he’s in music so he can answer musical questions and he’s an easy learner.
“Tyler takes the higher math classes and higher science. He’s just very knowledgeable about everything.”
Becker agreed his expertise isn’t limited to one field.
“I really didn’t have a specialty, although I was hit up for my math abilities,” he said. “I think I did equally well in all subjects, though.”
Although the Scholars Bowl season is over, Becker said the goal of having fun while learning was accomplished as he competed alongside teammates Kristy Konda, Austin Moore, Amanda Roberts and Nick Wedel.
“We didn’t do very well as a team, but we had a lot of fun,” Becker said.
He said the team members learned much more than just the answers to the sometimes obscure questions.
“The fact that we lost a lot allows us to cope with that situation, and I think that will be something we can apply to the rest of our lives,” he said. “I wish more students would participate in Scholars Bowl because it’s just fun.”
When he’s not hitting the buzzer for a correct answer, Becker plays saxophone in the Canton-Galva band.
“I’ve been in the honors band for the last two years and I was sent to the Lions Club Band by our local Lions Club last summer,” he said. “I never did any sports, though.”
Becker’s involvement in music also landed him a leading role in the school musical the past three years.
“I like to sing,” he said. “I also like giving hugs-that’s really great. It’s just an overall sense of joy for me, and that’s really a God thing. I’m basically just happy to be alive.”
Becker said he is unlike most students at Canton-Galva.
“Most people would describe me as off the wall,” he said with a grin. “I’m a generally happy person and that really comes from my faith.
“I’m fairly random-spur of the moment. And I try to bring a little humor to the situation I’m in.”
Becker’s faith also leads him to many activities through his home church, the Countryside Covenant of McPherson.
“I play the saxophone and the guitar for my youth group’s praise team,” Becker said. “I’m the instrumental leader there.
“I like to think I’m pretty well out there and a very open person, but sometimes I just feel like I’m not open enough with my faith, like in school. But I’ve also been growing a lot recently, so it’s something I’m working on.”
Hamilton said Becker has a personality that is unusual, to say the least.
“I wish I could describe his personality,” she said. “He’s serious, fun loving, a prankster-all of the above.
“Sometimes he’s off the wall-always in a good way-and he’s very opinionated,” she added. “Don’t try to talk him out of anything. He’s just very unpredictable.”
Becker said his favorite class this year is U.S. history because “Chuck Kern makes it really interesting.
“I also take as much science and math as possible to qualify as a National Scholar,” he said. “You need four years of each.”
Preparing for a Scholars Bowl meet primarily means paying attention, according to Becker.
“I just pay attention and retain knowledge in classes and in my surroundings,” he said. “We also practiced going over the old questions that have been asked or are asked a lot at previous competitions.”
Becker said it’s just fun to be asked the questions, whether or not he knows the answers.
“I watch ‘Jeopardy’ sometimes because I like to answer questions,” he said. “Scholars Bowl is pretty much the same thing, except I have the chance to buzz in and get points.
“The biggest challenge was not to let the losing affect you,” he added. “You just have to learn to not let it bother you and basically have fun.”
A job in McPherson at Kentucky Fried Chicken helps occupy Becker’s after-school and summer.
“It’s actually pretty smelly,” he said with a grin.
Spare time is spent “hanging out with my friends, watching movies, playing guitar and sitting around doing nothing.”
Becker’s plans haven’t solidified yet, but he is taking Spanish classes in high school. Not surprisingly, that comes easily to him, too.
“I hope to do something with foreign languages-maybe in the mission field or getting a job in the court systems,” he said.
Whatever path Becker follows, he said he’s learned a lot from his association with Scholars Bowl.
“It’s just a huge confidence builder,” he said. “Initially, you don’t want to buzz in because you think you might be wrong. But eventually you get past that-that’s something I’ve seen a lot.
“Some people are too nervous to buzz in, but three weeks later, they’re giving all sorts of answers,” he added. “Some may be wrong answers, but at least they’ve built the confidence to give it a try.”