I asked a couple “novice” friends, in other words, a beginning speech students, to recollect on their first year. This was their very first competitive experience with Speech and Debate (not counting junior tournaments). This was their experience and perspective on the tournaments they participated in their first year…
How did you feel about your first tournament?
Competitor #1- The first tournament- I dreaded it! As I walked into the building. I only knew a few people, and I just wanted to go home. I was super nervous. Then my brother and some of my friends I did know started introducing me to new people. I ended up enjoying the tournament very much at the end, I ended up being sad it was over. I did a complete 360!
Competitor #2- Although my siblings have been participating in speech and debate for many years (since I was like 5). It was my time to attempt to shine (except I am not my siblings and this is totally not where I want to be). However, I see the skills they learned and know the value it is going to have on my life, so I am willing to put myself in what could be the most nerve wracking, uncomfortable experience in my life. Besides, I’m pretty sure my parents would make me- even if I didn’t want to.
Did you break your first year?
Competitor #1- My first speech was on the importance of the role of the father. Even though I didn’t break, I was still able to impact people with my speech. Some of the parents came up to me and told me how much they loved my speech and how much it blessed them. One of the judges left a comment on my ballot that said he wished to be the kind of “Papa” I talked about in my speech.
Competitor #2- Not yet. But even if I don’t, I know that the skills I am learning will be able to be built upon.
How did you feel as the season went on?
Competitor #1- As I went to more tournaments and presented my speech, many of the competitors also came to listen and encouraged me. They told me I did a good job. This gave me confidence to continue presenting and to do the best I could to my ability. A number of people prayed with me before rounds and that really blessed me. We sang worship songs in the announcement time when there were delays in the tournament, and it was beautiful and strengthened me.
Competitor #2- Well, I am not giving up, I am signed up for another tournament. Eeks!
Did you have any embarrassing moments?
Competitor #1- Most embarrassing thing that happened my novice year was during my first speech round ever. As I was giving my speech, I was changing directions and moving sideways and my heels got stuck together and well… I kinda fell into the table. Oops!!! Tips for the new girls wearing heels… PRACTICE!!! Unless you would like to fall into a table like me.
Competitor #2- Well, my first round in IO was pretty much an epic fail. Missed lines, giant pauses, props dropped, and magnets didn’t work (ok- maybe it had something to do with my placement of misaligned props). Yes, it was pretty much me trying not to cry through out the (only) six minute speech. I wanted to quit. I actually asked my mom if I could stop giving the speech mid-tournament. However, by my second round, I practiced between rounds, and gained some confidence. By the end of the tournament, I thought of ways to improve- what I could do to increase my time, feel more comfortable, etc.
What was your take away as a first year student?
Competitor # 1- I made a number of great friends my first year. One friend in particular and I even spent time together over the summer, even though we live in different states. I met people from all over the country this year, when my brother qualified for Nationals and I went to watch. All in all my novice year was “one for the books” and I highly recommend it!
Competitor #2- Competitively- I am not giving up, I know there are still lessons to be learned. Personally- this is a growing experience in and out of the competition room.
Everyone has their own “first year experience”. The point is- to have that first year experience. Remember- This is where everyone starts. Go out, be you, and see where the journey of speech and debate can take you!
photo by: Julieanne Photography