For the reigning champs, the National Championship Tournament for HBCUs is about embracing their smarts and bonding.
The brightest and smartest students from 48 HBCUs will put their smarts to the test for $50,000 cash at the 25th annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament, an HBCU exclusive academic tournament, which kicks off in Torrance, California, April 12-16.
The teams will undergo rounds of questioning on an array of subject topics from science and math to English and history. One of the 48 schools competing in the finals are the reigning champs of Morgan State University, who are vying for their third consecutive win.
“As a defending champion, there is always pressure for winning again. However, there is no more pressure to repeat this year than there was last year,” Micheal Osikomaiya, 21, an English major from Baltimore, Maryland, told BET.com.
The Morgan State team has been dedicated to routine studying and practicing together whenever possible, with each student bringing forth his or her own areas of expertise. But for some Morgan State competitors, it’s more than just an academic challenge, it’s an opportunity to embrace learning and shine light on mental athletes.
“It is also a great way for the participants to cultivate a joy of learning,” Osikomaiya said. “It is especially great to see us being thought of as hard working and talented when so often people look at physical athletes as the hard-working persons in our society."
James Hayes-Barber, 20, an electrical engineering major from Prince George's County, Maryland, is also competing in the challenge for the third year in a row. For Hayes-Barber, the Honda Challenge has added to his overall college experience.
“The Honda team has allowed me to be integrated into a Morgan community unit and work towards a common goal for the shared benefit of all,” Hayes-Barber said. “It has made me not only a better player and student but a better person in general.”
Armed with unity, confidence and countless hours of study, Hayes-Barber, Osikomaiya and their teammates will head to the 25th year of the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament on Friday.
“I am dedicated to fulfilling my potential and seeing my teammates do the same as we grasp our victory,” Hayes-Barber said confidently.
Follow Dominique Zonyeé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee.
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(Photo: Courtesy of Morgan State University)