Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nationals came and went. The tournament I had been building up for and readying myself for came and went. Within only 72 hours of speech and debate, 5 years of my life disappeared.

I did well. Our team did well. We didn't get first place like we did two years ago, but we got second place and there is certainly no shame in that. I'll never forget how depressed our team was on the last night when the announced that we got second place, and how it upset me. I was and am proud of our team, this team. Sure, we didn't get first like last time, but who cares! We destroyed 50 other teams and lost first place by two points. No one else can say that. No one else had a team that took first place at every tournament they went to. No one else had a team with two All American students (of which I am one!). No one else has had as much success as we have had. And no one has the best damn forensics coach that we have.

I am not disappointed, even though I know most of my team still is. I wish they could see things the way I do, but I'm a grizzled veteran jaded by years of experience and perspective. I hope one day they realize what an accomplishment they achieved that night.

As for me, it is over. I am done. In a strange way I feel liberated from speech and debate, but, at the same time, I am saddened at the loss of it. I learned so much from my experiences that I know I will take with me forever (pending I don't get a stroke or Alzheimer's). It has been but a fraction of my life, but perhaps the most meaningful and most powerful.

I used to say that I believed there were speech and debate gods and that I sought their blessings lest I fail. In truth, speech and debate are what you make of them. There is no luck, no chance, and certainly no mysticism. It's not about the trees I killed nor the hardware I collected. It's not about the people I met nor the places I saw. It's about skill, good and bad pieces and judges. It's more than speaking. It's about thinking. It's about challenging yourself to be more than you thought you could be before. Most importantly, it is about growth.

This is what I take with me from speech and debate. Though it is gone and I am done with competition forever, I will always be part of this greater experience. Part of the art of persuasion, beautiful and just.


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