The 2017 Academic Bowl Team All-State Recognition Banquet and Awards Ceremony was held on Saturday, April 22 at Redlands Community College in El Reno. Coach Gordon Bockus was honored as OACA’s Coach of the Year. This was Bockus’ second time to be honored as Coach of the Year. Senior Roy Phipps was recognized as an Academic Team All-Stater, and senior Gloria Evans was an honorable mention. Only 36 seniors in the state of Oklahoma earn the title of Academic Team All-State, and an additional 36 earn the honor of honorable mention. These honors come after the academic team’s most successful year ever.
The Wilburton Academic Team won the State Championship in February. This was a first for the team, and the school’s first team state championship since 1961. Before winning the state tournament in Class 3A, the team was Area Champion in January and Regional Champion in November. The team was competed twice on RSU’s television series “I Want Answers!” Roy Phipps was the captain of the team throughout their successful season.
Bockus also coached the 2016-2017 froshmore academic team who qualified for state competition and went on to win their division at the state level. Bockus has coached many successful teams over his 30 years as an academic team coach. He helped to found academic bowl competitions in the state of Oklahoma. In the past six years alone, Bockus has had four teams qualify for the OSSAA State Games. Before this year’s state championship team, Bockus had two teams earn the title of state runner-up. He has been a member of OACA, the organization who recognized him, for over 20 years. He has served as an officer numerous times. Melinda Wallace, OACA 1st vice president, wrote, “Gordon’s guidance and encouragement has helped so many students and fellow coaches. A person like Gordon can never really retire. Even if he stops coaching, he will continue to do things that inspire others every day.” Bockus is retiring at the end of this school year. He will be deeply missed by all those in the academic team community but especially by his team and his co-coach of 24 years Lisa Baker. His accomplishments as an academic team coach are too numerous to mention. Finishing his career with an OSSAA State Championship, a Froshmore State Title, and OACA Coach of the Year honor seems fitting.
Senior Roy Phipps has served as the academic team captain for two years. He is a four-year member of the team. He has participated in academic bowl competitions since fifth grade. He has lead the team through its best season ever as the 2016-2017 captain. He was also captain his junior year when the team qualified for state but did not place. Phipps wanted to return to the state championship his senior year and win for himself, his team, and his coaches. He is a gifted and passionate player. Phipps was a Blue Mountain All Conference player in 2015 and 2016. He was also captain of the froshmore team during the 2015-2016 season. Before the evening banquet, Phipps had the opportunity to play with other All State players in round robin competition. Phipps was selected captain by his teammates. He also played in the All State vs coaches game. He earned 30 points during the game, almost half of his team’s total points. He ended his academic team career with the answer “AC/DC.” Classic rock is one of Phipps’ favorite categories, so it was an appropriate way to conclude his stellar academic team career.
Gloria Evans is a three-year member of the Wilburton Academic Team. She played for Panola’s Academic Team her freshman year. She has been a part of a state qualifying team three times—her freshman, junior, and senior year. During her junior year, she was the sole female member of the state qualifying academic team. Evans was unable to attend the banquet because of her participation in the state vocal music solo and ensemble competition. She is a multi-talented young lady.