Excel TECC students compete in virtual SkillsUSA tournament

Senior Eddie Barch works on his presentation in Mr. Suchy's class.

Brandyn Petruccio

Senior Eddie Barch works on his presentation in Mr. Suchy’s class.

Brandyn Petruccio, Guest Writer

SkillsUSA State Competitions were forced to be held virtually this year due to COVID-19.

Excel TECC instructor and SkillsUSA adviser Ron Suchy has been competing in SkillsUSA state competitions with his students for over 20 years, but this year is a bit different. He said, “Because of Covid everything had to become virtual and it’s different now because instead of being a two-day event, it’s a two-month event.”

Suchy admits that there are still a couple of in-person competitions just because they have no other way of doing it. He said, “Essentially it’s virtual, and there’s a disconnect; I think there’s a lack of energy to it, and a lack of enthusiasm behind it all. But, at least we’re still giving our students a chance to really showcase their skills of either technical or leadership or occupational-related, so that’s that’s the big difference.”

Reflecting on the year and students preparing for the competition, Suchy thinks it’s been a long, drawn-out process. He said in mid-March, “I think they could have condensed it. Right now we’ve got contests that are taking place during Spring Break, and it’s affecting every school regardless of when your spring break is; and, the fact that there’s contests going on during that time is so ridiculous.”

While the tournament will be held over two months, Suchy believes it could have been completed in two weeks. He said, “I think they would’ve been able to focus on leadership and occupationally-related contests one week, and technical skills contests another week and really had the whole thing done in a two-week span.”

Suchy feels that shortening the overall process for all of the competitions would have had a positive impact. He said, “I think it would’ve been able to really get everybody in the state more focused about it and more enthusiastic about it, because it’s like okay, we’re going to competition season now and it’s something rapid-fire and everybody’s really able to get excited and wound up about competing.”

Regional Gold medalist and Excel TECC senior Eddie Barch is competing in his second virtual competition this month. He said, “I am not as excited about it as I would be for the real event because it is not the same experience as in-person but it should still be fun.”

Upcoming state competitor and Excel TECC senior Connor Gdovin didn’t compete in a regional competition, and is preparing to compete in the Technical Computer Applications contest. He said “I am a competitive person and I have never competed in a non-athletic competition. I thought [SkillsUSA] would be a great opportunity to compete in something new.”

One aspect that Gdovin feels that he missed out on was building relationships with his teammates and classmates at the event. He said, “If we were in-person, we would be able to stay overnight with our teammates. With the competitions virtual, we will miss a lot of team-building activities.”

Barch feels the same way as Gdovin, especially because he was supposed to compete in Columbus last year before the cancellation. Barch said, “I wish I could have gone in-person and interacted with other people from around the region, state and country. One specific thing I would like to have done if I made it to nationals would be collect pins from other states.”

Although the event is being held virtually, Suchy is still hoping for some medals at states this year and for his students to excel moving forward. He said, “Hopefully by next year we’re back at the greater Columbus Convention Center, and it’s the festival of excellence again.”