Hampstead NH Man Recalls How Alex Trebek Changed His Life
Matt Joyal, from Hampstead, NH and a teacher at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Mass had a dream of being on Jeopardy since he was a little kid. That dream seemed like it would never come to fruition when Alex announced he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March of 2019, but then, Matt got a call from California and he was off to participate in the 2020 Teachers Tournament!
I found Matt in the Jeopardy archives and by the way the names are listed, he could have been the LAST Jeopardy contestant from New Hampshire!
I emailed Matt and he responded with his memories of Alex:
Alex Trebek was one of people who inspired my lifelong love of knowledge and learning. In a small way, he probably impacted my decision to become a teacher. When I got the call to be on the show, I was not super excited to be on national television (terrifying) - and I really wasn't thinking very much about the opportunity to win money. I was mostly just glad that I'd have an opportunity to spend a few minutes in the same room with Alex.
After the few short minutes that I did get to spend talking with him, I was struck how much it felt like I had known him my whole life - and of course I had. He is in reality everything that he seems to be on TV - intelligent, witty, and most of all kind. I was fortunate enough to get to watch some of the episodes from the audience, and Alex's interactions with us during commercial breaks were relaxed and informal and clearly a source of joy for him. I wish that everyone could have had the opportunity to see him in those moments when the cameras were not rolling - no surprises, but just more evidence to confirm that he was the real deal.
......maybe it did change my life - not in the ways that people usually talk about being on a game show, but simply because I got to meet one of my childhood heroes, and it turned out that he was exactly what I believed him to be. How many people can say that?
Matt won $5,000 to have made it to the quarter-finals, but it was never about the money or fame for him. It was about meeting and being in the same room as Alex Trebek. I can relate, Matt. Good for you!