The Destination ImagiNation global finals at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, next week will be very much a family affair for the Boorman family of Coon Rapids.
Two local teams have qualified from the state finals of the problem-solving competition – one representing Coon Rapids High School and the other Anoka-Hennepin high schools.
Parents Doug and Marian Boorman are coaches of the CRHS team, which goes by the name, Short Attention Spaaan, while daughter Becky is coaching the Anoka-Hennepin high schools team, known as CHCC.
The Boormans began their journey in the Destination ImagiNation (DI) tournament some 16 to 17 years ago when Becky was a student at University Avenue Elementary School, Blaine, then continued as Becky went to Northdale Middle School and Coon Rapids High School.
Even when Becky graduated from CRHS and went on to compete at DI global finals at the college level, Doug and Marian continued to coach Coon Rapids High School teams.
In fact, according to Doug Boorman, their teams have qualified for global finals from regional and state competition nine times, including 2011 when the CRHS squad place seventh in a field of 60-plus teams from all over the world at the international event in Knoxville.
“We hope to do as well as last year, maybe better,” Doug Boorman said.
Not only has Becky Boorman competed in Destination ImagiNation in the college category – she is a graduate of the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul – she has been a judge at the global finals.
This year is her first as a coach.
While the two squads compete in different categories in the high school division, they share practice space at Presbyterian Church of the Master, Coon Rapids, and two team members.
Ari Ash, Blaine High School, and Danna Gilbertson, Columbia Heights, are members of both the Short Attention Spaaan and CHCC teams.
Joining Ash and Gilbertson on the Coon Rapids High School team are Chris Lommel, Matt Moen, Alyssa Ash and Colt Freund, all of Coon Rapids High School.
On the four-member all-girl CHCC team with Ash and Gilbertson are Brittney Allen of Northdale Middle School, who will be attending Blaine High School in the fall, and Maddy Gilbertson of Columbia Heights.
The Gilbertson sisters became involved in the local DI teams through being members of Presbyterian Church of the Master, according to Danna Gilbertson.
The CRHS team is competing in the structural Hold It! category, while the Anoka-Hennepin quartet is in the improvisation News to Me challenge.
The Hold It! challenge involves building a structure made of balsa wood and glue to hold the weight and contain tournament-provided golf balls, as well as a delivery device to deposit the golf balls one at a time into the wood structure.
At the same time, the team has to create and present an original story, with the theme of “Captivation,” and integrate the weight placement and golf ball delivery into that story.
Moen and Lommel designed and built the wood structure and delivery device, respectively, while Ari Ash and Danna Gilbertson have created the original story.
According to Ash and Gilbertson, their story is about a mad scientist and who falls in love with a neighborhood girl, and she tries to keep him in line.
Lommel plays the mad scientist and Gilbertson the girl.
“It’s a love story that we have tried to make funny and not too uncomfortable,” the girls said.
The team has also constructed a backdrop of scenery. “The scenery, the structures and the improvisation, it’s all done by the kids,” Doug Boorman said.
At the state competition, the team ran out of time with 18 balls out of maximum possible of 24 having been deposited into the wood structure by the delivery device, but still took first place, according to Doug Boorman.
And the CRHS wood structure was a lot lighter in weight than the second-place team – 5.7 grams compared with 15 grams, he said.
Becky Boorman’s News to Me team placed second at state to qualify for global finals, but will represent Minnesota alone in its division because the first-place finisher at state is not going to Knoxville, she said.
“The girls on the team wanted to do the improvisation challenge,” Becky Boorman said.
According to the quartet, they thought it would be fun and it has been.
“It’s been so much fun,” Allen said. “We do goofy stuff.”
The News to Me challenge has two different skits. In each one, two different types of news stories are selected and linked in the skits through cause and effect relationships, with team members acting as scenery and props to enhance the skits.
But Becky Boorman said there is little time to practice because the news stories for one skit can only be chosen 10 days before the competition.
The team competes May 25 at the global finals so it cannot begin to select new stories until May 15, she said.
“We have been finding bizarre news stories for practice sessions,” Becky Boorman said.
However, the team also has to improvise a cause and effect skit on two unrelated news stories that are given to them a few minutes before the challenge competition.
At the same time, they have to adapt and improvise when their plans “become totally discombobulated by a one-minute glitch,” according to the DI summary of the News to Me Challenge.
Not only that but DI teams in all categories have to compete in a completely unrelated instant challenge competition.
They have five minutes to respond to the instant challenge they are given and present their solution, whether it be building a structure or performing a skit, and at least two members of the team must participate, according to Doug Boorman.
“The kids really have to think on their feet,” Marian Boorman said.
The two teams only lose two members to graduation this year – Danna Gilbertson and Allyson Ash, she said.
The teams leave for the drive to Tennessee Monday with the global finals starting Wednesday, May 23 and competition continuing through Saturday, May 26, with the awards ceremony taking place that night.
Since it started in 1999, Destination ImagiNation has grown to involve more than 125,000 students in the United States and 30 other countries.
According to its website, DI focuses on creativity, teamwork and problem solving.
There are seven challenges in three different K-12 age division plus a college division.