The Secrets of CyberPatriot Part 3: The Inner Workings



Mr. Strazza and Good Counsel’s CyberPatriot Team

Before the CyberPatriot tournament begins, the team hosts a simulation of an actual round to prepare newer members and refresh experienced team members. 

A core principle of the team is the community, likely inherited from its identity as part of a Xaverian Brother Sponsored School. As John Godman puts it best, “It’s excellent to spend 6 hours with people pulling your hair out trying to fix some stupid little computer thing.” Initially, the comment is bizarre, as most people can barely stand being with their family for over an hour. However, two aspects change this regarding CyberPatriot: the people and the goal. 

To be blunt, Good Counsel’s CyberPatriot team is weird. More specifically, the people are weird. Each person comes from a unique background and is heading towards a different destination. Yet the passion they hold for all they love binds them together. Whether it be one’s love for programming, engineering, horses, history, or just memes, that love allows the team members to connect and forge friendships beyond the competition room. This friendship provides for effective communication and constant motivation during the tournament.

The second aspect, aforementioned, is the goal. No one calls pest control over one ant, but when you have a colony feasting over the remnants of your double quarter pounder, you have a problem. Each member has directed that love for their passions and invested it into a shared goal of winning. This culture fosters a persevering attitude amongst team members. Thus, even when faced with the last minutes of a round, hope still burns in the team’s eye. Through this perseverance, team members stay motivated throughout the six tedious hours.

While tedious seems a bit of a stretch initially, it is an understatement.

Typing on one’s computer may not seem very taxing, but the Cyberpatriot competition entails more than that. To succeed, one must act in a way that heavily taxes both the mind and body. Before starting up the engine of your computer, the team faces off in a mental battle. The rates of point gathering of each team in the nation are available. So it is debated if one should look at this data. Some members of the CyberPatriot community believe that looking at this data causes unnecessary pressure impeding the team’s performance.

In contrast, others believe the data serves to alleviate stress and help strategize for upcoming obstacles. Good Counsel’s team typically uses this data for the latter. After facing off with that mental decision, players have to make a series of fight or flight decisions, each costing time. One can initially decide to invest time in the Forensic Questions. This decision is particularly advised as, during rounds, one may delete a file vital to answering the question. However, it is possible to invest an hour or more in one question and still run blank. So there is no promise it will pay off. 

Players must constantly undertake these life-or-death decisions and overcome them.

Rat Movie: Mystery of the Mayan Treasure
(IMDb 2014)

To abate the acquired stress, Mr.Strazza utilizes the millennia-old technique of feeding one’s soldiers. Halfway through the competition, team members are supplied with dozens of pizza boxes. At this point in the round, most of the team usually takes a break and rewatches the Rat movie. For some reason unknown to all, watching the Rat Movie has become a tradition amongst the group.

Unintentionally or intentionally, Mr.Strazza has mentally split rounds into two sections: Pre-Pizza and Post-Pizza. Due to this, team members may begin to work extra hard near the end of the Pre-Pizza session. Akin to running faster when reaching the finish line. They then are supplied with more energy for the Post-Pizza session. Consequently, getting team members back into a working mindset takes a while. Akin to revving up an engine.  

Next up Part 4: CyberPatriot Competition Experience