College Cup X had been one loss after another for Gabbe College. In everything from soccer to dance to basketball to Mario Kart, Gabbe had come up short. With no first-place finishes for the entire weekend, Gabbe had been relegated to last place in the College Cup standings. Coming up as one of the finale events of the weekend, trivia was our last best hope to strike back and win our first event of College Cup.
Trivia teams are supposed to be five students in number and include one member of the faculty. Our all first-year team was left with an unexpected last-minute absence of faculty member. Looking around the crowded room waiting for the big event to begin, we were excited to see Dr. Steven Gabbe. Dr. Gabbe, the previous medical school dean and the namesake of our college, was visiting for the first time since he had left Vanderbilt and had been cheering us on at all the events. What better way to represent the “Return of the Dean” than by having Dr. Gabbe himself on our team as we closed out the final night of College Cup? Dr. Michael Pilla, faculty mentor for Robinson College, came up to our team and facetiously questioned our right to have Dr. Gabbe on our trivia team (considering he was not currently on the Vanderbilt faculty). Given our last-place standing far behind any college, we responded with, “At this point, do you really care about what Gabbe does?” He smiled, waved his hand, and walked off with his megaphone.
The first round began with presidential sports, questions about the athletic pursuits of the Presidents of the United States throughout history. Being a history major myself, I was happy with many of the questions that ranged from Richard Nixon’s love for bowling to Teddy Roosevelt’s boxing prowess. I led the discussions on the answers, with Dean Gabbe providing the critical link for more recent history that he had lived through. We were stumped by which nineteenth century president was known for wrestling, which turned out to be Abraham Lincoln. With only a couple misses, we ended the first round on top.
The second round was on nursery rhymes, ranging from “Hey Diddle Diddle” to “Peter Peter Pumpkin-Eater.” We were disoriented on each question, but to our surprise and elation, Dean Gabbe knew the answer to almost every single question. In response to our bewilderment, he remarked, “It’s been a while… my youngest is 45 [years old].” With our strong performance in the first two rounds, we were leading the other three colleges going into the second half. The next round was on food items, which we held our own on but Chapman began creeping up on our lead. By the end of three rounds, we were in a virtual tie.
The final round was on words that began with the letter “Q.” In this round we faltered, missing a couple questions including a Broadway rock musical (Quadraphenia) and the name of another medical school located in Tennessee (Quillen College of Medicine). In the end, we tragically fell one or two points short of Chapman College. Despite the second-place finish, we energized our distraught collegemates who had been kicked around all day. I held up the microphone and led the G-A-B-B-E chant and lion roar. Afterward, I left the table with my team to adulation from members of Chapman, who were pleased that we had prevented Batson and Robinson from gaining enough points to threaten Chapman’s first-place position in the overall College Cup standings. Batson and Robinson fought a tie-break for third place; but after performing the same on three questions in a row (including a bizarre incident in which both teams wrote down the exact same number in response to a free response question), they decided to call it a good even tie.
I was grateful for the chance to be on the trivia team with such bright minds and for the opportunity to have competed alongside the legendary Dean Gabbe himself. I was proud of our all-first-year team for almost taking first place and for representing Gabbe valorously in one of the final events of College Cup X, showing the school that lions won’t go down without a fight.