The 15-year-old Math Maverick

With help from Regions, rising high school senior Jonathan Hurowitz took Team Alabama’s reins.

Jonathan Hurowitz doesn’t know how to take no for an answer. When it came to helping out, neither could Regions.

The 15-year-old rising senior at The Altamont School in Birmingham, Ala., loves competition. With the UAB Robotics Competition on the horizon and no teacher at his school interested in leading a team, Jonathan formed one. When he was asked to join the Scholar Bowl team and participate in the National Academic Championship in New Orleans, he not only participated – his team came home with the national title in the junior varsity division.

So when math teacher, Matthew Crawford, moved to Dallas for a new job, Jonathan started looking for a replacement to guide the Alabama team in the upcoming American Regions Mathematics League national tournament – the world series of high school competition.

He eventually found his man simply by looking in the mirror. Once Jonathan decided to coach the team, he approached Regions for sponsorship. Regions sponsors financial education programs in schools throughout the footprint. With ARML, Chief Compliance Officer Doug Jackson saw a natural fit because of Regions’ efforts to foster financial stability in our communities.

“Supporting students who excel in math furthers that financial education goal,” Doug said. “It’s important for us to champion students like Jonathan, who will no doubt lead our communities in the future.” 

For Jonathan, the decision meant more than coaching. It meant organizing practices for elite math students from across North and Central Alabama. It meant raising funds, planning a trip, reserving dorm rooms and transportation for the tournament..

The ability to take on so much responsibility at such a young age didn’t surprise Jonathan’s mother, Hope Mehlman.
“It’s a big commitment, and no one would do it,” said Hope, senior vice president and assistant general counsel for Regions “So Jonathan decided, fine, he’d do it himself.”

“After a month of looking for people, I took a step back and said, ‘There’s nothing stopping me from doing that,” Jonathan said.

To prepare, Jonathan established a relationship via e-mail with an ARML coach from Texas who could provide the kind of test questions that would get the Alabama team ready for competition.

“He was a force,” said Huntsville’s Tom Thompson, whose son Sam competed with the Alabama team as an eighth grader. “Jonathan communicated everything to the team members and parents and I was impressed with the way he took the lead on everything.”

Back at Altamont, Buck Crowe wasn’t a bit surprised at tenacity of the team and its youthful leader.

The coach of the Altamont Scholars’ Bowl team, Crowe had seen Jonathan’s ambition in classroom and competitive academic situations. This was the same young man, after all, who had turned in perfect math scores on the ACT and SAT exams.

“Not only is he an outstanding competitor in the Scholar Bowl, but he does tax returns for low-income working families, he’s a premier Latin student,” Crowe said. “He is a kid who doesn’t do things because he thinks they are cool, but because he has the initiative to make things happen. And in doing so, he motivates other students.”

With a 15-year-old coach and a team primarily comprised of middle schoolers and high school underclassmen, the Alabama team arrived in Athens for the competition. A team from Florida not only had a professional coach but an MIT student as an assistant. A Georgia team featured assistants who were math majors at Georgia Tech.

“We were one of the younger teams there, going against the best math students in the nation,” Thompson said. “We gave a lot of effort and held our own.”
Actually, the Alabama team did more than hold its own.

“We finished in the top half against much older students,” Jonathan said. “We didn’t do as well as we wanted – we wanted to win, of course. This is a high school competition. We had five middle schoolers, and this was advanced math – some of the problems we had were on math not even taught in high school.”

Figure on 2013 as a rebuilding year. Next year, the bulk of the team returns. And the head coach will be legally able to drive.

“I expect us to do better next year,” Jonathan said. “I might as well coach again. I’ve done it and it worked.”