Ryan Reaches For The Top… and gets there.

Hello! Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back with Episode 9 of His Life In Game Shows, and this week, it’s all about a long-running Canadian institution, which has crossed his path at various stages throughout his life….

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My Life In Game Shows

Episode 9: Hosting A Show That I Played – ‘Reach For The Top’, 2010-present

I was in Year 10 in high school in rural Eastern Ontario, Canada when I heard about Reach For The Top.

What? A game show for high school students?!

I was in.

I was gung-ho for this game, a four-person quiz bowl style format, and I would make sure never to miss a practice. I also organised regional tournaments leading to championship matches for our school board finals.

When I moved to the Toronto area in the early 2000s, I took on coaching at a secondary school, which lead to helping to organising our local league.

In 2010, I found myself with some time to spare, and was able to hook up with the production team from Reach For The Top and landed myself a position as a Production Assistant. I was thrilled to get to help in any way I could.

PRO TIP: If it so happens that you want to work on a game show, take any position you can – you just need to get your foot in the door.

Over time, my role as Production Assistant led to me becoming a Question Writer, Game Assembler, Provincial Championship Host and in 2013 I took over the position that I have now – National Host! I get to preside over the National Championships every May.

What is it like? Well, as someone who has loved game shows all of his life, and who had the childhood dream of becoming a game show host, it’s pretty flipping cool! There are also tense times – the first game I ever hosted at the National level (a quarter-final match), the game went to a tie-breaker, which is rare in Reach games. I also love getting to do the “interview phase” with the players, and if they’re good at improv I’ll lob them classics such as “It says here on your card that you created the colour yellow. Tell us about it!”.

Well… at least it makes me smile!

Is it hard? Yes, very much so. As someone who is surrounded by knowledge all day long (I teach elementary school when I’m not having my game show adventures), I do think I know quite a bit about a lot of things, however I do make sure to read all the material before hosting any matches. I also keep my skills sharp by hosting regularly at the local, regional and provincial levels.

Is it rewarding? You bet it is. Every year I get to see such a bright, personable group of young people showing their academic prowess – it’s their version of the Olympics. I also love seeing players seemingly pull knowledge out of nowhere. I was also flattered in that one student once asked me to write a reference letter for her (and she ended up enrolling in my alma mater – bonus!)

If you’re so inclined – please check out a recent National Championship game!

Next time, we’re back on the game show experience train, but on the radio this time, and an additional follow up surprise on that show!

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Congratulations Ryan, on following that dream, and having a ‘full circle’ style journey around that pivotal game show from your younger years. I’ve found that if you’re persistent and patient, incredible things can happen over a period of time. This has certainly been proven to me time and time again, not just by my own game show experience (as chronicled here, here and here), but in many other areas of life. So, whatever your goal may be – stick to it!

It may take time, but the rewards can be… well, immense! 

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