To the student whose season just ended, I’m so sorry. When I saw the email announcements a few days ago, my heart broke for my younger siblings, the students I have coached, and the hundreds of families who build their spring semester around tournaments. As you grieve this difficult but necessary announcement and perhaps work through anxiety about many other uncertainties, I would like to encourage you with a few truths…
Last week both Stoa and NCFCA announced they are canceling their speech and debate seasons. I ache for all of the competitors who abruptly saw their season come to an end, especially the seniors. We know that these decisions were not taken lightly, and much prayer was put into this. The bottom line is there are no guarantees. We have always known this, but we don’t tend to believe it unless it’s staring us in the face. I know for some students, they feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them. However, you are not yet finished…
Below is one of our devotionals from the Lasting Impact! Devotional Book…
Everything you say and do has an unpredictable impact! Speech and Debate is no different!
All too often I see students who are practicing and honing their public speaking skills for the competition, winning trophies, or recognition. I know it can be easy to lose focus on why the art of communication matters.
BUT WOULD YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR COMMUNICATION COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON GENERATIONS TO COME?
As we walk in this life, uncertainty abounds. Each direction we look is full of hope and fear, often side by side. It is at times like this that I remind myself of the God we serve. We are not subject to the fears of our fellow men and women. We have a God who is close and who cares; Who’s mercies endure forever!
So as we experience the cancelations of tournaments for which we have excitedly prepared, as we ponder the work and the pieces of ourselves that we have put into our speeches in hopes of bringing joy, laughter, ideas, and deep thoughts to others, let us not consider this work to have been in vain.
First, we have gained individually from the effort we have put into these speeches. We have worked with others and have grown as a result of the research, the learning, the sharing with others, etc. We have built relationships which, in the end, are to be more cherished than the speeches themselves.
Second, we do not know what the future holds. We may very well be able to complete in Regionals or Nationals this year. For many this speech season is not over. I still think this is an opportunity to try an online tournament! And so, do not let your guard down. Do not give up the fight just yet.
Third, we can be an encouragement and a witness to those around us. With each fear, the opportunity to demonstrate the Love of Christ abounds! For the perfect Love of Christs cast out fear. We don’t walk by sight, we walk by the Spirit. We keep our mind stayed upon Him, from which we know peace. Let us share that peace with those around us, whether believers or not. Our lights can be seen the best when the darkness deepens around us.
Fourth, we are community! We do not have to be face to face to be in each other’s presence! Lasting Impact! has always been about connecting! We will continue to connect! We are thinking of ways to embrace change… include more people, learn, and grow!
So whether your season has come to an early end, or whether you have competition remaining this year, be of good cheer, it has not been a waste, growth has happened already, we did what we did for the Lord – not for ourselves – and so we cannot loose. Pray for those around you. Pray for their faith, their peace, their healing, and that they come to know the Loving Father that we serve. But also pray for this country and her leaders. Pray that we repent for the way we run from God. Pray your own repentance to God.
And remember – we can always start preparing for next season … for this is not the end – there will be a next season! You Got This!
That’s the plain and simple truth. Tournaments aren’t for your parents. Tournaments aren’t for your siblings. They’re for you. Parents may enjoy socializing, yes. But how many parents do you know who still come to tournaments once their children are graduated? Hardly any. Once you’re not in the league, Speech and Debate doesn’t mean much to your parents. Why? Because tournaments are for you.
I met Colin quite a few years ago, ironically on the set of one of my favorite classic literary pieces, A Christmas Carol. Like all good cast mates we keep in touch over social media. I knew Colin was the guy I needed to go to when I needed help inspiring my Lasting Impact! Community to READ! I saw so many speeches last year that have been done before. Sure, it may be classic literature, but it left nothing for my imagination. I know those stories. Colin is constantly reading! People take note… if you want to have a fresh, new, inspiring Interpretive Speech – take Colin’s advice… Read Something New…
Every year before I head out on a summer whirlwind of camps and workshops, I dig into The Word to see what God is going to give me to say to these students, parents, club leaders, and coaches. Sure, I know how to pick an Interp or how to make learning about Platform or Limited Prep Speeches fun. But what is it that God really wants to say through me? That’s what really matters!! I’ll admit it, after a long competition season, I feel like I am going to the well parched and ready. In Speech and Debate, we spend so much time focusing our lives around the competition, club meetings, Debate briefs, research, practicing, tournaments, etc. I feel like the summer is for rejuvenation. Psalm 81:10, “For it was I, the Lord your God who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.” How better to get rejuvenated… through Him!! Yet, why did I wait until summer!?
There is often a huge misconception about really good communicators. Most people think that those fantastic communicators started out that way… that they were just naturally talented or gifted!? I hear it all the time, “That person must have been a natural speaker.” Or “He/She is just gifted.” Or how about, ” They were born that way!!” While they may be a great communicator now, I doubt they were born reciting Shakespeare. Each of the coaches we have have at Lasting Impact! started their speech and debate journey between the ages of 8-16. And they didn’t become a National Champion Speaker their first year. The point is, they all made a conscience decision to begin. Will you?
Now is the time to kick start your season – head to a speech and/or debate camp! Get energized. Learn valuable lessons. Whether you are a beginner or advanced student, rev up your summer at camp! Don’t believe me? Here’s what people who have been to a Lasting Impact! Camp had to say…
Nationals is over. The season is over. Your speech and debate career is over. No longer will you wander the halls of random college campuses anxiously waiting to give a speech. You won’t sit in breaks and hear your name ever again. You won’t have the opportunity to speak in front of judges about something you care about ever again.
These were all the thoughts swimming through my mind last year when I left the national championship. You see, brand new alumni, I was you last year. Coming off my speech and debate career with lifelong friends and memories, devastated it was coming to an end. I honestly don’t remember too much about the very last night of nationals last year, but I know a lot of crying was involved. I had poured my heart and soul into this league for three years and now a piece of paper saying I finished high school was taking it all away.
In short, it felt like my world was ending.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
Brand new alumni, rest assured, as amazing as this activity is, there is life after it. However, being the alumnus I am, I can’t tell you this without my handy dandy three points.
Take Time Chances are this league was one of the largest parts of your life the past couple of years. You have poured blood, sweat, and tears into this league. You have grown and been shaped through speech and debate and you feel like the rug has been pulled out from beneath you. There is likely a lot of change going on in your life right now. It’s okay to be sad about the end of an era. Take a couple of days and allow yourself to sit in the emotion. Let yourself feel it. However, don’t stay there. Do something you love, hang out with some friends, even watch a movie. Your life is more than speech and debate, find something else you love and do that.
Give Back One of the best things I did as a new alumnus was to help coach my club. Going to an occasional meeting and listening to people discuss debate and give feedback on speeches was like a breath of fresh air for me. Judging was even better. I went to speech and debate tournaments, as an alum this year and I think I had more fun as an alumnus than I did as a competitor! Now don’t get me wrong, I still really missed giving impromptu when I heard a topic I got excited about and I might have written down cx questions in a couple LD rounds. However, being a judge was a lot of fun for me and allowed me to see just how much effort it takes to rank a competitor. It allowed me to see my friends and feel the energy of the tournament while paying it forward for the next generation of speakers. Take my word for it, new alumni, giving back is one of the best parts of being alumni. Give your email to some rising competitors and let them ask you questions. If a friend asks for feedback on a speech, give it. They’re looking to you now; don’t take that lightly.
Let Go. Perhaps the hardest of my three suggestions is to let speech and debate go. Not completely, mind you, (see step 2) but there must be a letting go process that happens. If you don’t allow yourself to move on then you will not be able to see the next steps God has for you on this big journey we call life. Some of you are ready to be done and have already kissed speech and debate goodbye, but for others, you weren’t quite ready to give all of this up yet. It will come. But you have to help it along a little bit. My suggestion to new alumni is to read your last set of ballots over once or twice then put them away. Your career as a competitor is over now, my friends, and as much as it stinks at times, we must move on to the new path we’ve been given. You’ll be okay, brand new alumni, you have been taught to speak well, you have been given wonderful opportunities and friends that will last a lifetime. God gave you the gift of speech and debate and now it’s finally time for it to come to a close. On to a new adventure new alumni!
Best wishes class of 2019 Sincerely, An alumnus of 2018