The View from Saturday
How we cite our quotes:
They called themselves The Souls. They told Mrs. Olinski that they were The Souls long before they were a team, but she told them that they were a team as soon as they became The Souls. Then after a while, teacher and team agreed that they were arguing chicken-or-egg. (1.3)
The five eventually decide here that, like a chicken and an egg, the team and The Souls are so tied together that one can't exist without the other. But we'll never know what actually came first.
People still remark about how extraordinary it was to have four sixth graders make it to the finals. There had been a few seventh graders scattered among the other teams, but all the rest of the middle school regional champs were eighth graders. Epiphany had never before won even the local championship, and there they were, up on stage, ready to compete for the state trophy. (1.4)
The Souls are brand new to academic competitions. They're the underdogs. Nobody expects them to even get past the seventh graders at their own school, and they go on to win the entire championship.
Unlike football bowls, there had been no season tallies for the academic teams. There had been no best-of-five. Each contest had been an elimination round. There were winners, and there were losers. From the start, the rule was: Lose one game, and you are out. (1.5)
It's almost as though the narrator is saying academic competitions are harder than sports competitions, because the academic teams only get one chance. Sudden death. No second chances.