WATERFORD - Every high school loves to have bragging rights about its state championship teams. Those at Waterford High School have a new winner to crow about, but it's not for a sports-related achievement.
On Dec. 15, members of the Waterford FFA chapter's parliamentary procedure team at Waterford High School won the 2012 FFA state parliamentary procedure contest held on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.
Members of the Waterford FFA 2012 State Championship Parliamentary Procedure Team are Derek Huck, Katie Wagner, Jessica Coulter, Janice Whalin, Megan Whalin, James Whalin, Blake Campbell, Allison Adams, Katrina Ford and Megan Giffin.
This feat was accomplished with a tremendous amount of practice, dedication and academic smarts.
According to Matt Hartline, who has coached the Waterford team for 11 years, practices started in October and were held from 6:30-8 a.m. Monday through Friday.
"What high schooler wants to do that?" Hartline laughingly said.
Students must be gifted academically, he added.
"It's a purely academic type of contest where you have to use your thinking," he said.
The first step toward the team's winning title was a sub-district contest held in Athens in mid-November, where team members placed first.
Fresh off a win there, the victorious team received a taste of humble pie when they competed at the district level in late November.
"It was the first time we've gotten second in at least five years," said Hartline, also the school's agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser. "It was great because it's what they needed...When you come in second, you come back down to earth."
With some humility and lots of practice under their belts, members of the "parli pro" team headed for the state contest in Columbus.
In the first heat, the Waterford High School team placed first, beating out one of their biggest rivals, Hinsdale High School in Athens by just nine points.
"That was just amazing," said team member Jessica Coulter. "They've always beaten us."
The rivalry reminded Katrina Ford, a parliamentary procedure team member, of one closer to home.
"It's like Waterford High School and Fort Frye High School," said Ford, 17, of Waterford.
Waiting to compete in the finals as one of five teams, "I was overwhelmed and nervous," said Ford.
Playing cards beforehand "to keep their minds occupied," Hartline said, the team did their final competition and waited for the results.
"Mr. Hartline was standing there trying not to smile, not to make eye contact with any of us," Coulter remembered.
In each heat the Waterford High team competed in at the sub-district, district and state level, team members were given four topic options to discuss during a mock meeting that must be limited to 15 minutes or less-using a strict format and following the well-known Robert's Rules of Order.
"They're topics you've never seen before," said Coulter, 18, of Waterford.
"You have to come up with things whether for or against (the topic)," she added.
For example, at the final competition at the state level, one topic involved discussing the pros and cons of an imaginary "teacher appreciation breakfast during FFA Week in 2013."
After the big state win for the Waterford team was announced, "We ran out and started hugging each other," Coulter said.
"People were crying, and other teams were congratulating us," she added.
For Ford, the best part of the day came when one of the judges approached team members afterwards.
"He told us we were flawless in both our meetings," said Ford.
"To win is an honor...but that makes you know that you did really, really well," she added.
Hartline shared his feelings about his team's big win.
"You're proud of them either way, if they win or lose," said Hartline. "It was very satisfying, they were almost flawless."
"They brought their 'A' game at this contest," he added.