Editor’s note: The following was submitted by Trivia Team Challenge Co-Chairman Noel Bailey.
WAKEFIELD — In a rare box-to-wire victory, Wakefield’s Steve Pavey and the rest of his Beach City Boys took home the first place trophy Saturday evening at the 23rd Annual Trivia Team Challenge to benefit The Scholarship Foundation of Wakefield, Inc.
Stephen, a former teacher in the Revere school system, was more than ably assisted by other fellow Revere friends and teachers Mark Mattera, John Giamattei and John Mitchell. After scoring a whopping 239 total points in the three preliminary rounds, the victors, who also finished first in 2009, after being Rookies of the Year in 2003, scored a very impressive 73 points in a very difficult Championship Round, edging out Michael Kilkelly’s Peanut Gallery squad who came up with a fantastic second place showing with 67 points in the final round. Michael, an attorney from Wakefield, was supported by relatives Susan Kilkelly, Meg Kilkelly and Mary Adele Taylor.
The setting for the annual event was the very beautiful Parish Hall at St. Joseph Church on Albion Street in Wakefield. A total of 41 teams nearly filled the newly-updated hall and all of them had great praises for the venue, especially the state-of-the art sound system and wireless projection system. The directors of The Scholarship Foundation of Wakefield, Inc. are most thankful for the generosity and helpfulness of the St. Joseph community, particularly Father Ron Barker.
Four other teams captured placement trophies during the competition including third place finisher the Westlands Poker Association, a group of 30-something friends from Chelmsford, captained by birthday boy Kirk Pitta. Other members of the WPA squad included Sean Kenny, Dave Harmon and Jon Stagnone. A fifth player, Jeff Bernier whose team Six of Clubs was Rookie team in 2013 also rotated in to compete in a couple of rounds. A tie-breaker was needed to determine the order of finish for the fourth and fifth place teams, each of which finished with 56 points in the Trophy Round. Lucy Skeldon’s Eponymous squad was awarded fourth place, a wonderful showing for her team which captured first place in 2003 and 2012. As usual, Lucy was accompanied by her husband Michael, as well as Lauren and Dan Crews. Fifth place was captured by Gary Spezzafero’s Comicazis, always a top competitor. Gary’s teammates included Scott Long, Erin McGrath and Bob Howard. The winner of the sixth and final placement trophy was also determined in another tie-breaker as last year’s champions, Marcotte’s Marauders edged out Michael Maloney’s UnKnowns, with both teams scoring 55 points in the finals. Proving last year’s victory was no fluke, captain Keith Marcotte of the Marauders was assisted as always by Laura Kea, Angela Vail and Joe Politch.
A seventh trophy as always was also presented at the conclusion of the Third Round – the very coveted Rookie of the Year Trophy, which is annually awarded to the top-scoring first year entrant. This year’s recipient was D A F T which edged out the only other first year squad, The Sharper Image. D A F T was captained by former TSF President Faith Hodgkins who received support from her brother Thom Goodwin from Derry, N.H., as well as fellow TSF directors Debbie Lingiewicz and Alyssa Guarino. For the fifth consecutive year, the cost of all seven trophies was very generously underwritten by The Savings Bank. TSF of Wakefield is very appreciative of the support given to them over the years by The Savings Bank. The trophies, as always, were wonderfully designed by Reading Shirt and Trophy.
As mentioned before the seventh place UnKnowns, which won “the whole thing” in 2006, just barely missed winning a trophy; however, that team led the other 15 teams that did advance to the Trophy Round based on their performance (scoring at least 180 of a possible 300 points) in the first three rounds. Finishing tied for eighth place with 54 Final Round points each were the following three teams: Team L & O, led as always by Jayne Zaya and Dot Halpin, which had the highest individual round score of the evening with a whopping 83 achieved in the third round; last year’s Rookie of the Year team Le Grand Cru, captained by Stacey Contsas; and Gary Davis and his fellow dog-walkers and their excellent team The Canine Crew.
Other teams which competed in the Trophy Round, in order of their finish in that final round, included: 2013 overall winner the jovial Zuzu’s Petals, led as always by Wakefield’s Judy Terrazano; back to back 12th place finishers Four From Fermoy, a relatively new but quite successful team, captained by Kevin Scanlon; The U-U Church Lightning Rods, always a threat to win it all one of these years, captained by Greg Moulton; 2010 TTC Champion Gang Greenwood, led as always by Walt Dolan from, where else – Greenwood; the always competitive Polar Mules, captained by Attorney Tom Falwell from Westford; Anthony Mattera’s The Right Stuff squad, a perennial strong competitor; Matt McDonald as leader of Ronald Mexico & Associates; Ms. Elaine & Us, back after a year’s absence due to the arrival of captain Elaine Guaetta’s grandchild; Donald Hodgkins and the rest of his Red Hot Trivia Peppers; second-year team The Soreback Patrol, with an inspired performance by Wakefield’s Jeff Crump and his fellow scout leaders; three time TTC champion (in 2005, 2007 and 2008) Paul Dixon’s Team Tech, which faltered in the final round, after finishing second overall in the prelims, and the always competitive team Missed It By That Much, led by Mary Anne Power.
Not making the final round but fully active throughout the preliminary rounds were the following teams, in order of their finishes in the preliminary rounds: Richie Macrina and his fun-loving bunch The Eastie Boys; WHS teacher Brian Robertson and the rest of the WHS All-Stars [it should be noted that both of these teams missed the finals by only two points]; the always-competitive team and the first one to enter this year’s event Her Fanatic Joker, led by Wakefield’s Rich Stevens; Malden’s Bill Casamento and his La Casas team sponsored by Bob Leahy; The Brainy Bunch, led as usual by enthusiastic event support Jack Havelick; Marilyn O’Sullivan and Rocky Road Rehab, returning after a several year’s absence; and the first of three Mark Eldridge-inspired teams, this one named Dumb.
Other competitors included Bob Leahy’s very supportive team called 12-5-50, in honor of his late wife; Joan Kuhn’s The Out-of Towners, long-time competitors formerly led by the late wonderful lady Ella Lombara; two teams sponsored by The Savings Bank: Two Guys, Two Girls and a Beer, led by Sara Eriksen, which captured 2015 bragging rights over Geri Rowe and Vinny Tirone’s Scatterbrains; a team aptly-named Reunited consisting of BFFs Alexis Treat and Kelly Sullivan, along with their husbands; the aforementioned rookie squad D A F T, led by Faith Hodgkins; Jay Landers and the rest of his very supportive Quannapowitt Mud Turtles; Dumbest, the second of Mark Eldridge’s; a team named Summer Dreams, captained by Marcy McCauley; Mary McNiff’s interestingly-named squad called Things That Aren’t Food; a rookie team called The Sharper Image, sponsored by Jay Landers and last, but by all means least, the team known as Dumber.
Veteran emcee Noel Bailey teased tested and often frustrated the 163 assembled competitors with a total of 100 rather unique trivia questions which typically ranged from “sort of gettable” to “almost impossible” as the competition progressed. This year Bailey was assisted, both physically and morally, by former TTC team participant Paul Simpson. As always, the 23rd TTC Challenge featured a number of various themes which weaved their way somewhat subtly through all four rounds. Themes included the number “23” in various iterations, people with the initials J. C., Saturday Night Live in honor of the 45th anniversary of the TV show, Bill Cosby, various questions about brothers and dogs, several “last alphabetically” questions and the usual array of rather difficult sports questions. As veteran TTC participants have come to expect and as newcomers gradually find out, the questions throughout the contest generally follow some sort of pattern that, if discovered early enough, can add valuable points to a team’s score. The general consensus was that the questions were a bit tougher this year than last but more than half (22 of the 41 teams) of the assembled teams still did manage to score high enough in the first three rounds to make it to the finals.
The success of this and every year’s Trivia Challenge is due in no small part to the level of participation of the TSF Student Directors. Again, this year their presence, under the extremely valuable guidance and supervision of Cathy Donovan, was invaluable as they assisted the event promoters in the dissemination of picture questions, the collection of team scores and the drawing of winning raffle tickets. The entire proceeds of the TSF Trivia Team Challenge go to scholarships for deserving Wakefield students, so it is very rewarding to see such support given back to TSF by the students and their high school supervisor, Kacper Kruszewski. The adult directors of TSF of Wakefield, Inc. thank the following WHS students provided much needed assistance: Julianne Bourque, Amanda Callahan, Theresa Fallon, Carolyn Harney, Courtney Hart, Shannon Quirk, Rachel Semel and Madeline Shea.
There are many, many other individuals that need to be recognized, for without their hard work and attention to detail an event the size of the Trivia Team Challenge would not be possible. Special thank-yous go out to: Martie Vatalaro, raffle chair and card table acquirer as well as liaison between TSF and St. Joseph Church, and whose continued enthusiasm for the event is both much needed and appreciated; Pat Skulley for his expertise in supervising the set up and take down of the drill hall, as well as his usual financial contributions and many trips to Broadway in Wakefield and elsewhere to pick up supplies and what-not; Roberta DiNitto, the hard working, sole paid employee of TSF of Wakefield for providing much needed behind the scenes technical and clerical support for the organizers of the event and for being the treasurer during the event; Joanne Driscoll, the event’s official greeter; Christine Mogni who assisted Martie at the very busy raffle table, and these members of the TSF Trivia Team Challenge committee who deserve recognition: Geri Rowe from The Savings Bank for help with copying and preparing materials on each team table; Deb Lingiewicz for co-chairing the event and for assisting, along with Faith Hodgkins and Alyssa Guarino at the dessert and coffee table; Steve Nixon, for actively pitching in at the bar between rounds of the event; Frank McLean for his efforts, particularly his volunteering to make the sure garage was locked up at the end of the evening; and the many TSF directors who helped with the set-up and take-down of the drill hall under Pat Skulley’s calm and expert guidance, particularly Martin Ammer, Bill Chetwynd, Steve Coyne, Cathy Donovan, Jean Hall, Don Hodgkins, Jay Landers, Frank McLean, Christine Mogni, Steve Nixon, Jay Pinette, Geri Rowe, Paul Simpson and Rich and Jen Walter.
Trivia Team Challenge co-chairman Noel Bailey and all of the directors of TSF of Wakefield, Inc. also wish to give special recognition to the contributions of two husband-wife duos without whose efforts the evening’s success also would not have been possible. Bob and Merry Eldridge not only offered their time and energy yet again this year to serve as bartenders for the event, they also very generously donated all of the wine sold during the affair (and I believe that the amount, as usual, was significant!). I am sure Bob appreciated all tips that were generated for his pet project, WAM (Wakefield Adult Mentors). In addition, for the fifth consecutive year Rich and Jen Walter stepped up and volunteered to serve as official scorekeepers for the event – a truly pressure-packed task and one which was handled expertly and calmly. Rich and Jen were thankful to the folks at St. Joe’s for the state of the art wireless setup with added a touch of professionalism to their conscientious efforts. Special thanks also go out to Chris Callanan who again not only brought his popcorn machine for the event but who also stayed for most the evening making sure that fresh popcorn was always available. Chris also generously offered his parking lot at the North Shore Pool and Spa store across from St. Joe’s for parking for the TSF event volunteers. We also are very grateful to the Harvard Mills Garage which offered its facility for free parking for all of the TTC participants. This was no small benefit for our supporters, especially in view of the very harsh winter we all have been experiencing. For the past few years, TSF has been fortunate to have Starbuck’s supply all of the coffee and related supplies for the event. This year was no exception as the Saugus location of Starbuck’s did the honors for the third year in a row. Thank you all very much.
During the third round winning raffle tickets were drawn and the lucky winners were notified of their prize just prior to the start of the final round. The TSF TTC committee wishes to thank the following who made donations to the raffle: Tania – A Unique Salon and Spa, Albion Street, Wakefield ($100 gift certificate); Lynch Lobster Company (live lobsters) of Beverly; Wakefield Co-operative Bank (two Sox tickets); the Boston Red Sox (Shane Victorino signed baseball); the Boston Celtics (autographed Avery Bradley basketball); TSF directors Paul Simpson and Martie Vatalaro (two Red Sox tickets each); directors Diane Lind, Faith Hodgkins and Cathy Donovan (each a $50 restaurant gift certificate); Jay Pinette (two $50 restaurant gift certificates); Martin Ammer (Quannapowitt Players tickets) and TSF Treasurer Jay Landers (a raffle item and a cash item). The raffle selling staff of Martie Vatalaro and Christina Mogni was very busy throughout the evening year and TSF thanks all of the competitors and guests who purchased a chance to win a raffle item. The entire proceeds from the evening’s activities, including team entry fees, raffle and bar proceeds and other donations, go directly to the general scholarship fund at TSF of Wakefield, Inc., to be awarded in June as scholarships to scores of deserving Wakefield college students.
The popularity of the event this year was no doubt aided greatly by the publicity offered by local newspapers. In particular, TSF thanks Glenn Dolbeare and Bob Burgess from the Wakefield Daily Item for not only their spectacular publicity efforts but for their donation of printing, including the team scratch pads and the raffle boards.
The 23rd Trivia Team Challenge was a tremendous success thanks to everyone involved, especially the 41 assembled teams, which entered this year’s event. The TSF directors were extremely pleased with the St. Joseph Parish Hall facility, which hopefully can become the new home of the annual competition. From the outstanding acoustics, the wireless capabilities, the overall cleanliness and the ability to provide adequate parking for all of the supporters of the event, TSF is extremely grateful. Thank you to everyone at St. Joseph particularly Father Ron and Merry Nordeen – you should be very proud of your Parish Hall.
Recognition also goes out to: the many TSF directors and friends as well as TSF student directors who volunteered much of their time and efforts (and oftentimes their money); those who made donations to the sweets table; those who donated the use of their card tables, and the fans who showed up to support the event. It is truly this type of support that, over the past several years, has helped TSF award nearly $450,000 annually in need-based scholarships to worthy Wakefield students.
Give yourselves all a great big hand!