Erik is a Minnesota native and director of the Bounceback Foundation. He has been involved in quiz bowl as a player, coach, writer, and tournament director for over 20 years. Quiz bowl has been a positive force in Erik’s life both as a teen and as an adult, and he started the Bounceback Foundation in hopes of ensuring that all players, both young and old, are part of a community that supports them and are able to get help if they need it.
“Quiz bowl has always created a sense of community for me. Even when I feel like no one understands me, or when I feel like there’s too much going on around me, quiz bowl is always there to remind me that we’ve all been there, and there’s always someone in the community who understands what I’m going through. I hope that through the work of this foundation, future generations of players can understand that we’re always there for them, and they’re never alone.”
Athena Kern is a proud Kentuckian who loves quizbowl a lot and wants everyone to love quizbowl just as much. Athena has played for nearly ten years and has dealt with anxiety and depression for roughly the last five of those. Athena wants the quizbowl community to be a safe, welcoming space for everyone and would love to meet you (yes, you).
Auroni Gupta has been playing, writing, and staffing quizbowl tournaments for a decade, and has no intention of ever stopping. Coming off the heels of an extremely competitive pair of collegiate quizbowl seasons with University of Michigan, which were exhilarating but took a hefty personal and mental toll (which he has written about here), he can be seen hanging out with friends and playing opens and side events and staffing the community’s various national tournaments. He is always happy to talk with younger players about how best to reap the myriad benefits of playing quizbowl, while avoiding its pitfalls.
Rob Carson is a seasoned veteran of the quiz bowl world and an advocate for mental health. In an interview with Play Quiz Bowl, Rob noted: “I think what I’m most grateful to quizbowl for, though, is that it was really a rock during some fairly personally difficult times in my life. Not to get too indulgent here, but I dealt with depression of varying but constant seriousness through much of college, and in its roles as both a social lifeline and something I just plain liked to do, quizbowl’s constant presence really helped me pull through.”