(above: The Collin College Respiratory Practitioners Team hoist their trophies after winning the Sputum Bowl National Championship late last year.)

Two Collin College Respiratory Care teams brought home impressive honors from the Sputum Bowl at the American Association of Respiratory Care national conference in Nevada late last year.

A team made up of two Collin faculty members and one former student brought home the national championship trophy in the practitioners division of the Sputum Bowl, a quiz show-format respiratory care knowledge competition where two teams square off and try to get the correct answers off the fastest. Each round is 10 minutes long and teams have 10 seconds to answer. Questions include science, math and respiratory care content.

This is the first championship win for a Texas team in 27 years.

Collin College's student respiratory care Sputum Bowl team.

Members of Collin College’s Respiratory Care Student Sputum Bowl team show off their third place plaques. This is the first time a Collin College student team has placed at nationals.

The team was made up of Professor Angie Switzer, Clinical Coordinator Julie Boganwright and 2014 Collin graduate Grant Pipes. A Collin student team of Victoria Theobalt, Kelsey Edinger, Codi Gallaway and Shannon Hardon came in third in its division, a first in the college’s national competition history.

“We are ecstatic about our wins,” Araceli Solis, director of Respiratory Care, said. “This is the first time Collin student and practitioner teams have placed at the national competition. That is why this past year was memorable and extra special for us.”

The practitioner’s team gave the crowd of about 1,000 people at the Sputum Bowl something to be excited about as well. The competition went to a sudden-death playoff between Collin and a California team after that team registered a challenge to one of the questions they had answered.

“We thought we had won,” Switzer said. “You know, big cheers and big embraces, the adrenaline just takes over, and then the coordinator at the national level said ‘Wait, there’s a protest.’”

The roller coaster continued from there, with Collin’s team thinking they had been eliminated at one point only to have the judges call them back to the podium. Finally, there was one more question.

“The tracheal-bronchial tree is divided into different generations. What generation is the trachea?”

Team members raced to push their buzzers and Switzer said, “the trachea is generation 0.”

“As soon as it was out of my mouth, relief washed all over us,” she said. “We looked at each other and (non-verbally) said ‘Can it really be that simple?’”

Turns out it was. Collin College was the first team to earn three points and took home the trophy.

“We were just over the moon excited to win at the national level and bring that type of recognition to our state, to our program and to Collin,” Switzer said. “We were just very, very excited. I think we rode that wave for weeks afterward.”

The win was especially interesting because the college’s team was a “renegade” team allowed to compete at the national level without first competing at the state competition held at the Texas Society for Respiratory Care (TSRC) convention. The team had plenty of practice, though, beforehand.

“Our Practitioner team won first place in 2011 and 2012 at the state level,” Solis said. “I guess the third time was a charm (at nationals).”

Collin has formed a student team to compete at the state level each year since 2009 and has taken first for the past three years, granting them access to the big show at nationals. This is the first time the team has placed.

The student teams could have many more chances to compete at the state and national levels, but Switzer said that she and Boganwright may just hang up their buzzers.

“We are going out on top,” she said.