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How Alabama HS Senior Scores in the Stock Market Game

Here's a look at how 18-year-old Zac Bodley learned to invest like the pros.
Author:

The Stock Market Game (SMG) is a curriculum-based teaching tool that allows students to invest a hypothetical online stock portfolio to learn about long-term saving and investing.

SMG Student Spotlight:

Zac John Bodley, 18, Senior, Hartselle High School, Hartselle, Alabama

SMG Highlights:

The Alabama Council on Economic Education (ACEE) considers Bodley to be "Alabama's Winning-est SMG student" (usually finishing in the top five in his region).

On April 30, Bodley will receive a special award at the ACEE Excellence in Economic Education Awards Luncheon.

Bodley first won the SMG Alabama State Championship at the age of 12.

Outside the SMG:

Bodley currently bats for Hartselle High's varsity baseball team and has a respectable batting average.

College Plans:

Bodley plans to attend the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Ala., on a full four-year academic "MAPS "scholarship, where he will study and play baseball. He expects to be a pitcher and a designated hitter for the Montevallo team. The scholarship includes an International Study Tour of Europe in spring 2009.

The following is the TheStreet.com's interview with Bodley, his father and his initial SMG advisor.

TheStreet.com:

How did you get started with the Stock Market Game?

Bodley:

Wanda McAbee

Bodley's then teacher-advisor, now SMG coordinator for Alabama is the one who got me started playing the SMG in the sixth grade. Although I was reluctant to participate, she insisted that it would be great for me. Without her and the game, I would be like most other teenagers who are clueless about the stock market.

My investing has improved with each SMG date, and it will continue to improve. Skills that I have learned by playing the game will last a lifetime.

TheStreet.com:

How has your knowledge of investing evolved over the years that you have participated in the SMG?

Bodley:

In my first competition I found myself just buying stocks because they "sounded good." They were companies that I shopped at or passed by daily. Needless to say, my knowledge evolved from there. I began doing hours of research, looking at earnings, P/E Ratios... and especially what Jim Cramer had to say. I now, of course, have my own real life portfolio, so my knowledge has greatly increased.

One of my favorite parts of the SMG is the $100,000 I get to spend on stocks. If I had that in real life I could rake in some serious profit. I also like the level of competition. One of my good friends, Laci who is also a great investor, used to give me headaches. For the entire 10 weeks of the competition you could bet we'd both bounce between first and second place consistently.

TheStreet.com:

What were the most challenging concepts that you needed to learn to improve your SMG performance?

Bodley:

The most challenging market and investment concepts that I had to learn were how to deal with market volatility and how to effectively deal with the 2% brokerage fee the SMG charges.

TheStreet.com:

What advise would you give to a new investor -- of any age?

Bodley:

The first piece of advice I would give a beginning investor is to start out small. You've got to get the feel for how the market works and the constant curveballs it throws at you in the ways of earnings, interest rates...

Next, I would tell a beginner to do their research. Nothing beats good and thorough research. Also, I would put a great emphasis on diversification. In an extremely volatile market -- like today's -- having your investments spread out between three or more sectors has never been more essential. Lastly, I would tell them not to get discouraged. You are most definitely not going to cash in with every trade, so when the market seems like it's chewing you to pieces,

remember there is still money to be made.

TheStreet.com:

What is your current approach to stock research and selection?

Bodley:

I do hours of research before I make my selection. I look at earnings history, when their next earnings report is, P/E ratios, value of the stock versus others in the same sector, recent trend of the stock and

I watch "Mad Money."

If I can find a stock with positives in all these areas, then it's probably going to be a winner.

TheStreet.com:

What have you taught your younger sister about money and investing?

Bodley:

I have basically -- along with my dad -- encouraged her to save her money. I also have every intention of getting her involved in the SMG when she enters junior high next year. Then, hopefully, she'll love it and learn as much from it as I did.

TheStreet.com:

What are a few of your recent best-performing investments?

Bodley:

My best recent investment decision was buying

Urban Outfitters

(URBN) - Get Report

at $20 and selling at nearly $32. The reason for buying the stock was that I saw it as a great value. It had a history of great earnings reports and had one coming up, and it had been on a slow down trend... a great time to buy low.

TheStreet.com:

What was a recent investment that didn't go well? What did you learn from the experience?

Bodley:

The worst investment decision that I've ever made was buying

Mamma.com

(now

Copernic

(CNIC)

), when it was extremely overvalued. To make it worse, I was $12,000 ahead in the game with three days left

in the session. I wanted to break the 50% return mark. I had made 45% the game date before and I only needed $7,000 more to get to 50% in this one.

Needless to say, the entire investment community took their profit, while I was trying to find mine. I ended up in fifth place and I was devastated at my poor decision. I learned to do research, don't buy an overvalued stock and don't jump on the bandwagon.

TheStreet.com:

TheStreet Recommends

How do you handle stock market volatility?

Bodley:

I watch for downward swings and try to decrease my share count and then buy loads of shares when I see an uptrend coming. Particularly, if I believe Ben Bernanke

Fed chairman will lower interest rates or it's a huge earnings report day, then I'll take a risk and buy huge amounts

of stock because the market really moves on these days.

TheStreet.com:

How do you balance school, baseball and investing?

Bodley:

I try to put school first and that is sometimes hard. When you play for Coach William Booth, who has won six state championships, you're naturally expected to make a commitment and be dedicated to baseball.

Fortunately, he is a man of great character and he understands the importance of my academics, for I must do well

in school to maintain my full academic scholarship to

the University of Montevallo.

I do my stock research early in the morning while watching CNBC or at night, after a long day of school and a good day of baseball practice.

TheStreet.com:

What do you plan to study at the University of Montevallo?

Bodley:

I intend to major in biology because I want to later attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. James Andrews, "the greatest orthopedic surgeon on Earth," performed a UCL reconstruction on my elbow in January 2007. Just seeing how he helps all his patients and cares for them, just gives me the motivation to pursue that career path. I'm also going to play baseball for the University of Montevallo. Then I can take the millions I make from being a surgeon and put it in the stock market!

TheStreet.com to Bodley's Father Greg Bodley:

How has Zac's knowledge of money and investing evolved over the years that he's been participating in the Stock Market Game?

G. Bodley:

Zac was somewhat of a unique child. He went straight from Barney and Scooby-Doo to the financial pages and CNBC. When he was introduced to the Stock Market Game in the sixth grade he based a lot of his buy/sell decisions on analyst recommendations.

As the years passed, Zac learned more about how the global economy and politics can affect the stock market. Zac still watches CNBC, MSNBC, CNN and learns from his "guru" Jim Cramer, but now uses this knowledge to formulate his own investment strategies.

TheStreet.com:

For parents who want to educate their kids about money and investing, what are a few specific ways to start the process?

G. Bodley:

Find some shows on TV which make finance interesting. Get on the Internet. Go to sites, such as TheStreet.com and explore.

The Stock Market Game is also an excellent tool to create interest in investing. It combines the thrill of competition, excitement of a reality show with the possibility of monetary rewards.

TheStreet.com:

As a result of Zac's SMG experience, have you learned anything new about investing and the stock market?

G. Bodley:

The SMG has been a very positive experience for both him and for us. We would have to say that 90% of everything we know about the stock market, we learned from Zac, since he became involved in the SMG.

We learned from Zac as we watched him grow in his investment knowledge over the years. He seems to make all the different strategies work for him, but we have not been as lucky.

TheStreet.com to Bodley's initial SMG advisor Wanda McAbee:

How has Zac's investment knowledge evolved over the years?

McAbee:

Zac began the SMG as a sixth grade student with no background in investment basics. As a seventh grade student, Zac was honored at the Alabama Securities Dealers Association annual meeting for winning first place in the Alabama SMG. After his speech, he received a standing ovation. The fact that he could talk about his investments was very impressive to those at the meeting. He was using language learned from his SMG experience.

Zac has a passion for investment. He found excitement in the SMG and translated that to his real life with investments, using real money. He literally made the connection from the classroom to the real world. As he prepares to go to college, he already has in place a personal investment portfolio.

TheStreet.com:

How has your role changed from when you advised Zac?

McAbee:

I retired from full-time teaching and now have two part-time positions: Hartselle City Schools Gifted Program Coordinator and Alabama Council on Economic Education Stock Market Game Coordinator.

As Gifted Program Coordinator, I work with students on a variety of academic competitions.

My role as Alabama SMG Coordinator is to lead teacher workshops sponsored by the Alabama Council on Economic Education

with financial support from Birmingham, Ala.-based brokerage firm Stern Agee, provide personal support to SMG advisors, recruit new teachers to the program, and handle the administrative aspect of implementation of SMG in Alabama.

TheStreet.com:

When did you start teaching with the SMG? Why do you continue support the SMG?

McAbee:

I started using the SMG in my classes in 1987. My first group of SMG students experienced the despair of a market crash. They were emotional. They were connected to real world events. Learning was personalized. I was hooked. Thus began my 20 years of encouraging students to get an edge on their financial future through participation in the SMG.

I discovered that academic competitions are a great motivator for students and give the opportunity for products of learning to go beyond the four walls of the classroom.

In my teacher workshops, I ask the question, "Do you wish someone had taught you about investing at an early age?" Everyone always nods in agreement. My challenge is, "Be that person!"

TheStreet.com:

Do you use other resources and materials to supplement the SMG?

McAbee:

I have used classroom visits by stock brokers, investment magazines, investment Web sites and books, the nightly news, financial news shows and interviews with parents.

A frequent parent comment is that they love the conversations they have with their children that result from SMG. Instead of the typical "nothing," when asked what happened at school today, parents report that their child initiates conversation about what happened with their portfolio that day. Also, students are motivated to ask parents about personal investment and get ideas for investment research.

The resources provided by SMG are outstanding, research based, and field-tested. Lessons are searchable by national and state standards, subject, grade level, and differentiated levels of ability.

TheStreet.com:

What are the most challenging stock market concepts or skills to get across to students?

McAbee:

One of the most interesting aspects is what causes a stock to go up or down. Even if students know all of the basic fundamentals by heart, the impact of news events inject an unpredictable aspect that fascinates and frustrates.

Our goal is to emphasize the value of long term investing. Students must see the big picture by analyzing long term charts, graphs, information and looking at historical implications. This leads to discussions of risk and risk tolerance. Students can learn the basic fundamentals. The challenge is to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

To learn more about the Stock Market Game, please click here.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.