Bob Julian Jr. is well known in the Rogue Valley, especially for his success in competitive running. As a runner and a coach, he has state and conference titles under his belt.
Next week, however, the Ashland Middle School social studies teacher will appear on local TV screens in a different sort of competition: taking on rivals in the Teachers Tournament special of trivia game show “Jeopardy!”
“I’m just a person who’s kind of a warehouse of useful and useless facts,” he said, “and I’m just curious about most things, so I think that’s paid off.”
To hear Julian tell the story of his time on the show is to realize, if you didn’t already know, that the slower pace of the once-daily episodes is an illusion. The whole Teachers Tournament was filmed and wrapped up over the course of two days in March in Culver City, California.
For now, Julian is remaining tight-lipped about the results, which will unfold before viewers from May 7 to May 18.
“It’s not the kind of a thing where you get all kinds of threats, but particularly with media and social media, you’re not supposed to talk about it,” he said.
Julian said he has been a “Jeopardy!” fan for a long time — long enough that he has tried to make it onto the show multiple times before.
“I always felt like I could be on the show,” Julian said. But when it came time to ring in answers before a live audience and famed host Alex Trebek, he added, “It was pretty nerve-racking.”
The selection process begins with an online test, which narrows the roster of hopefuls down to an audition where potential contestants square off in mock competitions. Julian had been to an audition before, but had never been selected to go on the show.
The first Teachers Tournament aired in 2011 and offers a $100,000 grand prize to the winner among 15 competitors.
As one of those 15, Julian said he knew he’d be bringing in at minimum a $2,500 grant from tournament sponsor Farmers Insurance to go back into his school.
The money will go toward purchasing new atlases, which Julian said “work better than any screen” to teach kids about geography and topography.
Julian will first appear in the quarterfinal that airs Tuesday, May 8.