Ned May ’03, Scott Neff ’03 and Lee Oxman ’04 will compete over spring break in the Bud Light Quarter Bouncers National Championship in Atlanta, Ga. May and Neff teamed up to win the Connecticut state championship, while Oxman joined forces with a friend from Yale and captured the Massachusetts title. The players will be flown to Atlanta to compete in the national tournament, which will take place on Easter Sunday (March 31).
The contest consists of teams of two players – both of whom are required to be 21 years of age, even though no drinking is involved – bouncing tokens that are roughly the size of quarters off of the gaming table and through a hoop. Over the course of four 45-second periods the players must put as many tokens as possible through the hoop, and the team with the most points at the conclusion of the fourth period wins.
In order to reach the finals, each team had to win three games on the preliminary night, and then follow that up with four more wins at the state finals a week later. Team May/Neff cruised through the preliminaries and had their first challenging match in the semifinals of the Conn. state championship. Down 38-32 going into the fourth quarter, May and Neff combined for 23 points to win 55-50. “After that, we knew we had Atlanta,” Neff boasted. “The rest of the competition was nothing.”
Oxman’s road to the finals was almost cut short in the first match of the preliminary rounds. Having not yet grown accustomed to the game table’s surface and the special tokens used, Oxman and his teammate were forced to conduct some last moment heroics to edge out their first opponent 36-35.
Those heroics would not be needed again until the Massachusetts state finals where they squared off against fellow Williams students Rob Carol ’03 and Dan Healey ’03. Carol and Healy gave Oxman a run for his money, but were unable to defeat the Greenwich native, who prevailed 47-45 in a heated match.
In qualifying for the finals, the players received air and hotel fare for two days and two nights in Atlanta, ground transportation, a welcoming party hosted by Trey Wingo serving free Bud Light all night, a gift bag with $100 of Bud Light merchandise and $200 spending money. The winning team will take home $5,000 while the runners-up will receive $2,000.
Having qualified for Atlanta weeks ago, both teams have had plenty of time for preparation. May and Neff have been practicing quite regularly on the official gaming table, which they took on loan from the Hartford bar where they won the finals, while Oxman has been “too bogged down by schoolwork” to get practice rounds in.
One might think that this lack of practice would leave Oxman nervous about the competition, but when asked about any possible lack of preparation Oxman shrugged it off as no big deal and seemed supremely confident in his game. May and Neff are not taking any chances, however, and have been putting up almost unheard-of three digit scores in their most recent practice rounds.
In Atlanta, the possibility exists that May and Neff could meet up with Oxman in an early round, particularly given that both teams have been placed in the Region One bracket (eager parties can follow all the action at http://www.budlight.com/quarters/home.html). This meeting would, according to Neff, be “a very close and exciting match-up.” Oxman had no comment about who would come out victorious in this instance, but did say, “I’ll do my talking on the table.”
The players attribute much of their quarters playing ability to a game called Swanky Chaos, known by most who play it simply as Swanky. “Invented in Greenwich and perfected at Williams” as explained by May, the game’s fast pace and intense match-ups are very similar to the tournament style of play.
While each player has his own unique gaming style, they all agree that past Swanky match-ups and a history of competitive quarters play gives them an advantage over the other 62 teams.
The players all feel that it is a tournament that anyone can win, but an air of confidence still exists. “The mentality I have going into it is that we’re going to win,” said Neff. “We need to play well in the first round,” said May. “If we can start out well and get in the competition’s head then we can go all the way.” A likewise-confident Oxman assured that while he is “keeping my cards close to my chest, you don’t have to be a genius to know what’s going to happen on Easter Sunday.”
Much of the student population expressed a strong sense of pride in having three of their own vying for the national title. “We here at Williams too often get labeled as just a school full of smart kids, or a school for jocks,” Pat McCurdy ’02 said with a shake of his head. “But three students headed to nationals for quarters â€“ that proves that we are much, much more.” Make us proud, boys, make us proud.