Monday, July 02, 2012
"a legend in the world of Academic Decathlon"
ALBUQUERQUE — As he strode into the hotel ballroom, scores of high school students swarmed the man they know as DemiDec Dan, a legend in the world of Academic Decathlon.
The students, competing for the national decathlon title, clamored for the chance to shake his hand. They posed for pictures with him. They reached out for one of the colorful wool finger puppets he has turned into the unofficial mascot of the academic competition.
"I'm meeting DemiDec Dan!" one boy exclaimed.
"Look at your adoring fans!" said another.
Daniel Berdichevsky is an Academic Decathlon star. He once set a record for the highest individual score in the grueling, 10-subject competition. But that wasn't all that set him apart from the crowd of teenage admirers.
Berdichevsky is 35. He achieved his record in 1993, before many of the students in the ballroom that day were born.
Since then, he has parlayed his love for the event and nostalgia for his glory days into a livelihood.
He started a test preparation company, DemiDec, while still a student at Taft High School in Woodland Hills and has since launched an international variation of the decathlon called the World Scholar's Cup.