Nova Scotia

Jeopardy! champ Mattea Roach thanks Halifax debate coach on way to 6th straight win

Brian Casey coached Mattea Roach on the debate team at Sacred Heart School of Halifax. Roach has racked up 6 consecutive wins on Jeopardy!

Brian Casey coached Roach when she attended Halifax's Sacred Heart School

As of Tuesday night, Mattea Roach had earned a total of $148K US and secured a spot at the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. (Jeopardy Productions Inc.)

Brian Casey had no idea he was going to get a shout-out from a former student on Jeopardy! on Tuesday.

Casey coached Mattea Roach on the debate team at Sacred Heart School of Halifax from grades 8-12. As of Tuesday, Roach had won six consecutive games on Jeopardy! and a total of $148,000 US, or about $186,000 CDN.

During her most recent appearance on the enduring quiz show, Roach, 23, thanked her old coach and brought him to tears.

"I was not expecting recognition of that sort," Casey told CBC Radio's Information Morning Halifax on Wednesday.

"It was quite moving. And she called after the show was over. And I don't know about Mattea, but I was certainly crying. It was lovely." 

In the midst of her recent winning streak on Jeopardy, Nova Scotian Mattea Roach gave credit to her former Sacred Heart School debate coach Brian Casey. We hear his reaction to the shout out and to Mattea's successful run on Jeopardy.

Roach has also secured a spot at the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, a yearly competition featuring 15 players who have won the most games from the past season. 

In a Tweet, Roach said Casey and his wife are two of her "biggest cheerleaders," and have supported her from a young age.

"The version of me who is able to succeed on J! wouldn't exist without them, and I wanted to recognize that while I had the chance," Roach, who lives in Toronto, wrote Tuesday night.

Casey said he's not surprised to see Roach doing well on the show because she's always had a good work ethic. He said Roach and her debate partner were "the best high school debaters in Canadian history" because of the number of tournaments they won nationally and internationally.

"Most would not do that in their entire high school lives, but they were very successful," Casey said.

'She has a terrific command of information' 

Casey said Roach had a tough time fitting in at school, but thrived on the debate team. He said her debate style was strategic, not aggressive.

"Debates are more about ideas than they are about information, but she has a terrific command of information as well," Casey said.

During an interview with CBC Toronto's Metro Morning on Tuesday, Roach said the whole experience has been "a blur."

"It's been kind of neat watching myself on these shows and I'm like, I don't even remember responding to that clue. I played so much better than I remembered," Roach said.

Roach said when she first showed up, seeing the set in person was "a bit overwhelming." She said she's watched the show for close to 20 years.

"It's such a positive environment there. The team who works there really does try to make sure every contestant walks away with really good memories of that space because they know how special it is to get to be there," she said.

Love from Nova Scotia

Roach said she's still trying to figure out what to do with her winnings. She has said some of it will go toward paying off student loans, but she's also considering investing in property and going to law school. She said she hopes potential law schools factors in her time on Jeopardy!

"I think what I've shown on Jeopardy! is that I'm great at responding to stressful situations and I am clearly very good at retaining information," she said.

Mattea Roach is a 23-year-old Torontonian on a five game winning streak on Jeopardy.

The support from fellow Canadians has been much appreciated, Roach said.

"The folks back home in Nova Scotia were just so excited. Any time there's any inkling of anybody from the province accomplishing something big, they'll make a big deal of it. They really love to celebrate it," she said. 

"And so to have the momentum build from there and spread what feels like across the country is really special. I'm so honoured that people seem to think I've been a good representative of the country."

With files from Information Morning Halifax and Toronto Metro Morning

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