A very nice tradition in recent years is to hold a “mock” student bowl to determine who will represent the College of Optometry at the Essilor Student Bowl at Optometry’s Meeting.  This year, May 3rd, it was even more special as the American Optometric Association (AOA) was agreeable to have it at their newly renovated national headquarters in St. Louis.  In what was a precursor to the Wednesday afternoon opening celebration for Optometry’s Meeting, the AOA had food and drink available in the parking lot before the contest.

The Master of Ceremonies – and he performed this responsibility very well – was AOSA Trustee Nick Holtzman (’21) assisted by Trustee-Elect Patrick Stifter (’22).  The judges included Drs. David Seibel (’87), Raymond Myers, and Erin Brooks (’11). Dr. Seibel is also the Master Of Ceremonies each year of the Essilor Student Bowl at Optometry’s Meeting. This year they competed in teams of two, and the following students participated:

Class of 2020

Lacie Spagnola & Trisha Smith

Jacqueline Hinderks & Jessica Broodryk

Sydni Davis Farhat & Maria Tantsits

Abigail Smith & Caroline Mendus

Class of 2021

Jonah Pfeiffer & Calvin Daack

Class of 2022

Torvin Rajala & Matt Falconer

The winners of the event, in a very close contest, were Trisha Smith and Lacie Spagnola, with Lacie ultimately representing UMSL at the Essilor Student Bowl.  For Maria Tantsits (’20) it was truly memorable: “This year’s Mock Student Bowl holds a special place in my heart as it is most likely the last Mock Student Bowl I will be able to attend before I head off into rotations. It was fantastic to be able to spend my Friday night with some friendly competition and being surrounded by the most supportive group of people — my classmates, UMSL faculty and the AOA. It was great to be at AOA headquarters and was a nice reminder that the AOA appreciates UMSL through the numerous contributions they have made to our education and our field. I cannot wait to transition from AOSA to AOA!” And this may become an annual tradition, as Nick Holtzman (’21) relates: “I couldn’t have been happier in how the Mock Student Bowl turned out; we had a huge turnout from the students and immeasurable support from Stacey Struckhoff and Rebecca Hildebrand at the AOA headquarters. I’m hopeful UMSL’s Mock Student Bowl at AOA headquarters becomes a tradition, and I’m working closely with Patrick Stifter, the Trustee-Elect, to ensure this happens.”