Cool Girl: Janice, 17, Mental Athlete

IMG_0217Into Brain Sport? Yeah, we are too. The 18th Annual USA Memory Championship is happening Sunday March 29th from 8:30am-4pm at the St. Vartan Conference Center at 630 Second Avenue in NYC. If you're nearby, go watch — it's free for spectators, and it's like field day for the mind! The competition includes events like the memorization of two decks of shuffled cards and an unpublished poem with all its punctuation. The participants, dubbed Mental Athletes, include people from all ages and regions of the country. We talked to one Mental Athlete, Janice Wang, 17, from Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, about her skills and strategy:

I Heart Daily: How did you become interested in Memory? Janice Wang: As a junior in high school, I'm required to memorize things daily, especially while studying for the SATs. I wanted to find a way to integrate memory as a fun activity and something that would benefit my school career. So, when my school's memory club formed, I joined right away!

IHD: Do you do any daily exercises to keep your memory sharp? JW: Yes, every night I go over a memory matrix system that involves associating a number that represents a word. Each number stands for a letter and therefore forms a word. This technique helps when it comes to memorizing numbers and cards.

IHD: Any tips for recommending people's names? JW: Names and faces is my favorite event in the memory competition. When meeting someone, find the feature that stands out the most. Then, associate a visual image with the person's name and the feature. For example, my memory coach Frank Felberbaum would say his most dominant feature is his nose; Felberbaum sounds like bombs falling, and Frank means hotdogs. So, I imagine hotdogs falling like bombs onto his nose. The more bizarre an image is, the easier it is to memorize.

IHD: What are you looking forward to most about the Memory Championship? JW: The energy of just being at the competition is a lot to look forward to. Mostly, I wish to do better as an individual and as a team this year, so I can't wait for all of us to really put all of our hard work to the test while having fun doing it.

I'm already nervous for Janice! This is like the National Spelling Bee (another favorite of mine) but with more variety! Find out more and go watch the competition.