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A game show featuring a State College native: What is ‘Jeopardy!’?

Nick Berube, right, poses for a picture with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek during filming of the game show in November. The episode will air Friday on WATM-TV.
Nick Berube, right, poses for a picture with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek during filming of the game show in November. The episode will air Friday on WATM-TV. Photo provided

Nick Berube’s family and friends will sweat it out Friday.

They’re in the dark about how Berube, a State College native, did on “Jeopardy!”

Berube said it’s been difficult not telling people if he’s a “Jeopardy!” champion, but the weight will be off his shoulders when his episode is shown at locally 7 p.m. Friday on WATM-TV.

The pressure was on him, however, when his show was filmed Nov. 19.

“It was overwhelming being there,” Berube said. “I’m not too competitive, but in certain instances I get into the spirit of it. I was pretty nervous until I went on stage and got a sense of my surroundings. Then, the whole “Jeopardy!” board takes up all of your vision, and I was just zeroed in on that and Alex Trebek’s voice.”

Berube, a 2003 State High grad who now lives in Massachusetts, didn’t lose his cool demeanor on the show, because he drew from his experience as a high school Quiz Bowl competitor.

He laughed when asked how he did on the Quiz Bowl team.

“I was on the B team,” he said. “There were a lot of brilliant people on that team, and we went to a lot of competitions.”

Julie Gittings, a retired State College Area School District teacher and former State High Quiz Bowl coach, taught students like Berube quiz show fundamentals for 36 years.

“In terms of knowledge acquisition, there is list knowledge where you can study lists of books by authors, quotes, geography facts and things like the periodic table, and then there is deep research knowledge where you study obscure or important things like an issue from a presidential debate,” Gittings said. “You have to have both of those kinds of knowledge, and when you’re competing you have to have timing to recall, buzz in, think and speak in two and a half seconds, which is very hard to do.”

Berube, after learning in October that he’d be on the show, studied one subject the most.

“British kings,” he said. “I have a good, broad knowledge of a lot of things, but I didn’t know anything about royal families, and they love to ask those questions. My fiancée made me an awesome study guide for everything.”

Several of Gittings’ students have competed on “Jeopardy!”

“It’s definitely another feather in the cap, and I’ll root for Nick like crazy,” Gittings said.

Berube’s mother, Janet Lyon, will be his corner, too.

She was, however, one of Berube’s two audience guests when his show was filmed. Lyon attended with her sister, Cynthia Lyon.

“It’s one thing to see him in studio, but you don’t get a full view of the contestants there,” Janet Lyon said. “I had a hard time actually seeing him and his demeanor, so it will be different watching everything on TV.”

Berube knows what he’d do with the prize money if he wins.

“There are some student loans I’d take care of, nothing crushing, but I’d take care of those,” he said. “Other than that, I just wanted to win a game. I didn’t want to waste this opportunity, so I studied to win the game.”

He plans to watch the show with his family in State College.

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