Derby High School’s Stan Scoggins recently had the opportunity to participate in the Jeopardy! game show.
Scoggins, who is a member of the DHS class of ’84, has long been a fan of the show and credits his teachers for inspiring him to pursue the path of being a contestant.
“My teachers at Derby really did start me down this road,” Scoggins said. “I would like to give credit to Mrs. Gaye Clements and Mrs. Watts. Mrs. Clements taught a history class that started with the end of the Civil War and went through Watergate. She taught us so many things without having access to the internet or history books that covered that period. She just researched it and wrote it all on the blackboard for us to learn. There are many times watching the show that I know the answer to something because of that class.”
The process of being selected for the show started with an online test that Scoggins took but never heard back. That didn’t stop him, though.
“I first took the online test soon after the pandemic started. They had an ad on the website after the show, and I didn’t get a response after that first test, so I tried again six months later. After that, I went through a second test where they watched us type our answers while on Zoom. Then, they had a third test where we held up pens and had to click in and answer. Then, there were some emailed questions, and I was scheduled,” Scoggins said.
“I was happily surprised each time I advanced to the next stage of the process. Because I live locally, they had me in as an alternate in case someone got sick or missed their flights. I didn’t go on that week, but they guaranteed I would go on when I went back two weeks later. I was lucky. I got to see Mayim [Bialik] host when I went as an alternate, and then I was able to play the game with Ken [Jennings].”
Scoggins lives in the Los Angeles area and works at Universal Pictures in the Marketing Department.
He says more than anything, he had a great time on the show but wasn’t immune to the fact he was competing.
“The stage is fantastic. The board is big, but farther away than you would think. They play all of the music, and all of the sound effects are there. One thing you don’t know as a viewer is that there is a light around the board, and you have to time your click to be the first one after the light comes on. If you know the answer and click too soon, you are locked out for a short period, giving the other contestants time to ring in. My coaches and P.E. teachers from Derby will tell you that hand-eye coordination was never my strong suit. And yes … I was star-struck by Ken Jennings. After he asked me the question about the Berlin Wall, it hit me that Ken Jennings and I had actually had a conversation, and that this was all real. It is a fantastic feeling to realize you are not just shouting answers from the couch, or even from the studio audience, but that you are playing the actual game. I got kind of lost in that for the first couple of questions in Double Jeopardy. It was a real high.”
Scoggins has some advice for those who might want to go down the same trivia road.
“Just take that test, and don’t be down if you don’t get called back on the first try. Some of the other contestants I met on set told me that they had taken the test between 20 and 30 times! If you do get the call buy some flash cards and start researching any areas where you feel you are weak. I had flash cards for all of Shakespeare’s plays, Dickens’ novels, queens and kings of England, presidents/vice presidents and first ladies. None of those came up in my game, but I enjoyed doing the research,” Scoggins said.
Although Scoggins finished in the third position in the game, he says he still enjoyed being a part of the show.
“It is a real thrill and I even made some good friends out of it,” Scoggins said. “I wish I had won. I didn’t want to stop playing.”