Dear Brand New Alumni…

Dear Brand New Alumni,

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
An alumnus of 2018