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2021 Friend of NYSOMA – Jim Hoelscher

This award was established by the NYSOMA Board of Directors to honor the service of individuals, who through personal action demonstrate, in an extraordinary way, those social values affirmed to the goals of New York State Odyssey of the Mind. The inscription on the plaque reads: “In recognition and appreciation of unique talents and creative energies offered on behalf of NYSOMA.”

NYSOMA is pleased to present this year’s award to Jim Hoelscher!

Jim first began his journey with Odyssey in 1984 as a coach for his son’s team. After trying coaching that first year he decided his talents might be a better fit for the judging side of the competition and Jim’s long tenure as a judge began. 2021 marks Jim’s 35th year as a judge for Odyssey of the Mind! On any given year he can be found judging multiple regional competitions, NY State Tournament and at World Finals. He has been instrumental in the administration of the Odyssey of the Mind program in New York having served as both a board member and volunteer in his home region – Region 14. Simultaneously, he served in multiple capacities on the NYSOMA Board for almost 25 years ultimately retiring from the board in 2020. Jim’s electrical engineering background naturally led him to become the face of Problem 2 where he has served as the State Problem Captain since the late 90’s. He has trained and mentored a crew of judges that are ready to tackle whatever is thrown at them – no matter how much they complained about the amount of taping off the floor required. To him, the more technical the problem the better! He has watched countless solutions filled with interesting technical machines, too many puns to count and many, many laughs. Jim can always answer the toughest questions the judging teams threw at him. Jim can always answer any question a coach threw at him and most importantly, he always resolved problems creatively. His love of the program runs deep and he has never shied away from defending the values on which Odyssey of the Mind is rooted in. In short, Jim has crafted a legacy in Odyssey of the Mind that will continue to impact the program for many years to come.

Carol Biros ( P2 IPC ) shared: I have known Jim Hoelscher for more than twenty years. Jim and I both served as Problem Judges for Alice McRae at World Finals. When I was appointed IPC, I knew that I wanted Jim as one of my core leaders in Problem 2. Jim is always ready to serve Odyssey in any capacity. He has served as Problem Judge, JTA, Head Judge and Assistant Problem Captain in Problem 2. Jim is a critical thinker, and his technical skills are astounding. He has the respect of all my World Finals Judges and Teams.

Gail Edwards ( WF P2 colleague ) shared: I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim for close to 20 years, throughout which time I have always looked up to him as a mentor, role model and sometimes my therapist. I admire his ability to deal with students, judges and officials in a calm and fair way. He can quickly analyze a situation from many angles and solve problems by building consensus. Jim demonstrates insight, knowledge, organizational skills, leadership and dedication. I’m so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to work with him.

For that we thank him with this year’s Friend of NYSOMA award!