Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC)
The Keystone Honors Academy sponsors participation in this national academic competition. The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) is the first-ever academic competition between students at America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Each year, 64 schools qualify to attend the National Championship Tournament (NCT), Cheyney University continues to qualify for the “Strong 64.” Cheyney University is leading winner at the national competition in the region and the Cheyney team receives grant funding as a result of their competitive participation.
- Students meet weekly to practice
- The KHA hosts a campus tournament every year, and students win cash prizes!
Cheyney University’s Honda Team wins $25,000 grant in national competition
Cheyney University's Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) team returned from CA after placing second in the national competition earlier this week, netting the PA school a $25,000 grant. Prairie View A & M University received the top prize of $50,000 after defeating Cheyney in the best-of-three final rounds.
Each year, Cheyney's Keystone Honors Academy (KHA) sponsors CU's participation in the national competition. In 11 years of competing in the fast-paced brain games that pit the best of 48 HBCUs against each other, this is the first time that Cheyney has advanced to the playoffs.
“I have complete confidence in the abilities of our students, and I’m so proud to see them advance in this national competition. This demonstrates to them that they are truly capable of achieving in the national arena," exclaimed KHA Dean Tara Kent who serves as Cheyney's HCASC campus coordinator.
Cheyney's 2015 team, comprised of veteran players Joshua Hughes, Richard Coleman III, Holland Culbreath, and newcomer Meredith Morrison, is coached by Dr. Hazel Spears, an Assistant Psychology professor who won thousands of dollars playing in ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire TV show last year.
“These kids make us proud, make us optimistic, and make us powerful,” Spears said of the second place finish. “We have some amazing talent at Cheyney, and these students are some of the best.”
“I was very proud of our performance,” said Hughes, Captain of the team. “Not only did we exceed expectations, but we exceeded them by so far. I was told that I put our school on the map. It’s a great feeling to help out this University.”
Spears used the trio of males, who had experience and confidence, to jump-start their roll.
“They learned from their mistakes, and were able to focus extremely well,” Spears acknowledged. “Meredith Morrison, our newest addition, did incredibly well, making crucial contributions to our team's stretch of wins in this tournament.”
"I know this was a great leap forward from previous years," Morrison remarked, "and I'm glad I was able to help my teammates, all of whom are graduating, go out on a high note."
After Team Cheyney advanced to the Elite 8, the Cheyney Campus Community gathered around computers to watch the lightning-fast questions and answers as Cheyney's team, comprised of all KHA students, was grilled on all kinds of topics including the arts, science, history, and sports. Cheyney eliminated Tennessee State and then Alabama State to make it into the finals on the national stage.
"I will cherish the friendships I've made," Coleman said, talking about competitors from different schools and states. “The diverse new group of friends I have is wonderful. It was a great experience and I challenge incoming freshmen and currents students, whether they’re members of the KHA or not, to come try out for the team. It's a fun time and can open doors for you in the future.”
Culbreath agreed. “We were among some of the brightest and most impressive young men and women from around the country, and we proved that we can compete with the best of them. It's always nerve-racking to be put on the spot, but the more it happens and the more you believe in yourself, the easier it is to deal with.”
Always the competitor and an encourager, Spears is already thinking about next year's competition.
“We now have the experience and will even have the monetary support to mount a great training program. In addition to the 2-3 weekly practices, I plan on wider recruiting efforts, summer reading lists and incentives for active involvement. In fact, Dr. Kent and I would like to create a regular cultural literacy course that would support the type of global knowledge acquisition and awareness that wins in these competitions.” Morrison, she surmised, "will be our connecting link, since the three fellows all graduate this year." In addition, Spears plans to have next year's team increase their knowledge of current events by listening to "National Public Radio for at least 5 hours a week. Any competitor who does not know who Ban Ki-Moon is (the Secretary-General of the United Nations) is going to have a tough time getting to #1, which is, or course, our next goal.”
She also wants to help students develop enough self-confidence to take risks.
"We are about helping students realize they are champs, on the national stage, and in their own lives. The legacy this team leaves for Cheyney is that we are top-notch contenders, and we can do whatever we set out to do. This is a legacy I joyfully look forward to sharing with future generations of Cheyney students."
Morrison, a member of Cheyney's record-breaking bowling team this year, hopes to make the Honda team next year as a senior, and encourage others to try, too.
"Even if you don't think you stand a chance, but still want to compete, come try," she coaxed. "It's exciting, it's a great and fun way to learn new things, meet new people, and grow as a person."