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This could be your year: 5 automatic bids to San Diego!

For some LifeSmarts players, it’s one of the most disappointing feelings: competing in a state LifeSmarts competition, working hard and doing well all day, until — right at the very end — the other team wins the final match…again. For the third year in a row. And even though you smile through the “good game” handshakes, you think “this was our year! We should be packing our bags for Nationals.”

This year, it might be your chance.

For the first time ever, LifeSmarts has opened its “wild card” competitions to every Varsity team in the country, by introducing an Automatic Bid process. Five teams will be awarded an invitation to the National LifeSmarts Championship in San Diego before the state tournaments. They’ll compete for the Florence Kelley Cup just like the state champions (they’ll even have sister teams), representing parts of the LifeSmarts nation that have been missing for a while.

What kinds of teams are the committee looking for?

  • Teams that haven’t been to Nationals (or at least haven’t been in a very long time). The committee is looking to invite new faces who haven’t competed at top level before. Our goal is to create more elite teams and allow more students to experience the National competition.
  • Teams that have been active in state and local LifeSmarts program. The committee wants to encourage teams that have shown dedication to the program, even if that doesn’t translate to success on the scoreboard. There are lots of ways that players and teams can succeed at Nationals that aren’t possible in the time constraints of a state tournament, and automatic bid can help these teams shine on a national level.
  • Teams that use LifeSmarts both inside and outside the classroom. LifeSmarts is best known as a competition, but the skills players learn are useful well beyond the buzzers. Teams that incorporate LifeSmarts content into their lessons, and can demonstrate their knowledge through service projects like Safety Smart, the OTC Medicine Safety Mentoring Project, and the Food Waste Audit program will be considered more favorably by the selection committee.
  • Teams that have studied and prepared for competition. A significant chunk of points can be earned on the “January Wild Card Test”. Teams that do well will have the advantage when the selection committee meets.
  • Clubs, clubs, clubs! There are 5 automatic bids being awarded this year, and at least one bid each will be awarded to an FBLA team, FCCLA team, and 4-H club. This replaces the old “wild card” system from previous years — though on the plus side, it means that more than one FBLA or FCCLA team could earn an automatic bid.

What kinds of teams are the committee NOT looking for?

  • Anyone who competed at Nationals last year. If you want to return to Nationals in consecutive years, you must win your state’s championship.

What do we need to do?

  • Prepare your application and presentation, which are both due December 1st. The application is available here on the website, and is where you should upload your team’s presentation and your coach’s statement of support. Both the presentation and coach statement should explain how the team has uses LifeSmarts to apply consumer knowledge and why your team should be awarded an automatic bid to the National Championship. The presentation should be 8-12 slides in length (include some pictures). The coach statement should be 250 words or less.
  • Complete all the qualifying Category Quizzes (including the Capstone) by December 31. This could help your coach determine which 4 or 5 players will form the final team that would go to Nationals, and should be the players that take the January “Wild Card Test” which opens the next day.
  • Complete the “January Wild Card Test” by January 31. It’s a special TeamSmarts test, and as mentioned above, it should be taken by the 4 or 5 players that would be representing the school/organization at the National LifeSmarts Championship in April.
  • Keep competing in your state competition! There are only 5 automatic bids, but over 50 state champion bids — so your best shot to Nationals is still through your state tournament. If a team earns both an automatic bid and a state champion invite, they can decide which invitation to take afterwards (but they can’t accept both). Whichever bid they decline will be awarded to the next team on the list (for example, the state runners-up).

Where can I get more information?

  • Right here on our Automatic Bids page. The next deadline is December 1, so now’s the time to get started!
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