Introducing our Newest Coach – Abbey Lovett

We are excited to introduce you to another member of our Lasting Impact! team! Abbey Lovett has been coaching Speech and Debate for 4 years.  She has had an amazing Speech and Debate career-a few of her highest accomplishments include 2016 National Impromptu Champion, 2015 National Team Policy Speaker Champion. Abbey is scheduling appointments for either Speech and/or TP Debate. Here is what she had to say in her interview…

How long did you participate in Speech and Debate?
I competed in speech and debate for seven years and I’m still involved in the community even after high school. I also work as a Media Relations Associate at an economic research center where I use the skills I gained from speech and a debate on a daily basis.

How old were you when you started?
I was 12 when I started speech and started competing in debate when I was 13. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and lived by the motto “fake it ‘til you make it”. I gave countless sub minute impromptus and short debate speeches as a young competitor. I was glad I stuck around long enough to be one of the older competitors.

Tell us a little about your family dynamic (do you have siblings, are you the oldest)?
I’m the youngest in my family with one older brother. He was the reason I continued in debate. We partnered together my first year and he wrote my speeches for me, encouraged me when I didn’t do so well, and stood up for me when older debaters weren’t being so nice.

What leagues did you participate in?
I only competed in the NCFCA but highly regret not being more involved in Stoa. I love the events in stoa and highly encourage people to compete in the league and participate in their unique opportunities.

How did you grow from year to year?
My growth from year to year was fairly drastic. I went from taking 5 tournaments to qualify to regionals in debate, to qualifying to nationals at the first national open the very next year. For the longest time I worked on specific skills that went along with debate. In my last few years I concentrated on learning the history of communication through classical rhetoric. It revolutionized the way I communicate.

What was your favorite moment (does not have to be award based)?
I have too many favorite moments to list them all here. The best moment I can remember was standing outside finals at nationals in impromptu. God had been so good to me at my last tournament ever and I took a moment to thank him for all the opportunities I had given in the past seven years. I prayed that as I went into the last speech I was ever going to give in competition that he would give me a topic that would allow me to share a story and a message that topped any other speech. He answered. Standing on stage and realizing that I won the national championship with the hardest, most vulnerable and heartfelt speech I had ever given was the proudest moment of my career. I still relive it in my mind today.

What is your biggest regret?
My biggest regret was not concentrating on learning and internalizing Aristotle’s philosophy of Rhetoric earlier on in my career. For the first 5 years of competition I was in it to win. When I was introduced to classical rhetoric, I realized that communication was an art to be perfected, not a tool to simply be used to win rounds. I plan to dedicate my present and future career to showing others the beauty of rhetoric so no one else needs to experience that regret.

What was your favorite event? Why?
My favorite event was impromptu. There are several reasons why. Obviously for selfish reasons, I was good at it (I was frequently in finals and won nationals in 2016). Everyone likes stuff they’re good at. But I loved impromptu long before I was good at it. It’s my favorite event because it’s the number one place I felt like I could be a competitor and be truly myself at the same time. I let my personality perpetrate each round and always had the time of my life. Later on in my career, impromptu became my favorite because it gave me an opportunity to share a different story, passion, or message in every round. It gave me the ability to impact many people in many different ways, as long as I was willing to share.

What do you tell people who are apprehensive about starting Speech and Debate?
You don’t have to be a good speaker to be a good storyteller. If someone is afraid or apprehensive to starting speech and debate I simply tell them to share a story. You don’t have to be an expert communicator simply to stand up and share a story about something that inspires you. You might even find that when you do, it changes your life.

What about Speech and Debate will stay will stay with you forever?
So many things. For one, the friends and connections I’ve made. My best friends who have been there through thick and thin I made through speech and debate. I met my boyfriend through speech and debate connections, and I’ve even met a lot of my life mentors through speech and debate. In addition, the experiences. I was so much more prepared for the real world after high school because of my experiences through speech and debate. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

How did you prepare? Any rituals? How did you come up with ideas?
My best ritual was before nerve-racking speech rounds. I used to put on my high heels, turn on Woman Up by Meghan Trainer and walk up and down the halls to gain confidence. I was also one of those weird people who used to find a mirror to power pose and give myself pep talks. They worked every single time.

What is your favorite Speech of all time?
My favorite speech was surprisingly not my best speech. It was finals at Nationals in 2016. I got a topic that was close to my heart and I had an opportunity to share that with my audience. It was an incredibly special moment for me. Here’s the link to that speech:

How many tournaments did you go to throughout your career?
I probably went to about 5-6 tournaments a year. Maybe a total of around 35 tournaments, which doesn’t include any practice tournaments.

Any embarrassing moments?
Oh. So very many embarrassing moments. I could dedicate an entire post to ridiculous things I have messed up on before. I one time gave an impromptu on a topic that I had no idea what it meant. I one time forgot to bring my Apologetics box into my room because I thought it was impromptu. I one time quoted an article in a debate round in front of 50 people that was actually against my side… they pointed it out in cross-examination. I one time forgot almost my entire speech. Funny thing is, I look back on those terrible moments with fond memories now. They gave a fun personality to my career.

You can check out all of the Lasting Impact! Team HERE! We have started taking appointments for coaching calls, mental prep calls, and script assessment. Let the season begin!

photo by: Jean Rule