On September 19, 2020, the Concord Academy Student Life Office hosted Grit ‘n Wit: Where Brain Meets Brawn.” This was one of several Saturday on-campus activities throughout STAC 1, hosted by the Student Life Office to gather the community together during COVID times. Three students, in particular, Zeno Marquis ‘21, Ollie Longo ‘21, and Max Von Gottberg ‘21, not only won the Grit ‘n Wit challenge but also landed themselves the opportunity to appear on ESPN.

When asked about how the overall experience went for them, Zeno, Ollie, and Max all had a very similar response. Zeno said that his mind was racing. From sprinting to memorizing a long list of numbers, the physical and mental toll of the course seemed to give him an enjoyable challenge. “I was not trying to win, I just wanted to have fun,” Zeno emphasized. Similarly, Max and Ollie also went in expecting nothing but a casual Saturday activity. 

“Brett stated that we were separating into two groups, that’s when we knew we had to get competitive,” Ollie shared. Max emphasized this point, “A wave of euphoria was coming over me [as the activities progressed].” 

After a long, exhilarating day of physical and mental challenges, their team was crowned the Concord Academy winner of the Grit ‘n Wit challenge. While all three of them enjoyed their victory, Max and Ollie felt particularly ecstatic.

“We spent weeks devising the perfect strategy, and it finally paid off,” the pair shared. Although Zeno may not have prepared as much as Max and Ollie, the triumph excited all three of them, especially as they discovered they, as the winners are headed to ESPN. 

ESPN was the real victory that the three of them found at the Grit ‘n Wit challenge. Zeno was the first one to find out about ESPN from the Grit ‘n Wit coordinator. “I thought he was joking, but the guy was completely serious,” said Zeno. Max and Ollie had similar reactions.

The three have been invited to participate in another Grit ‘n Wit competition against other students from the Northeast region, next fall on live television. Zeno, Max, and Ollie are all very excited about this opportunity.

The three summed up their achievement in short inspirational quotes. Zeno shared,  “While many people approach these challenges in different ways, everyone approaches it with fun,” and Ollie and Max added, “Life is nothing but a chiasmus” and “Always make sure to go in, get our hardware, and get out”, respectively.