The “What Now?” After We Don’t Advance at The National Championship

With NCFCA National Speech and Debate Championship right around the corner, most of us are editing our platforms, hammering down our blocking for interps, and revising our debate cases. The preparation is vital, and I can testify to the importance of putting in the work. However, I think it’s necessary to keep a few things in mind while approaching the end of the season…

The simple fact is, most of us going to nationals are used to advancing, and finding success in the events we are taking. Many of us may even find success, with consistency, in multiple events. But the national championship brings with it a new arsenal of competitors, a fresh judge perspective, and a new level of competition; it doesn’t take a hard analysis of the numbers to know that a large amount of competitors will not advance, even if they have previously, or in region.

There is almost always a certain degree of disappointment when we don’t advance; I know from experience when you’ve put in all the work and dedication, not advancing can be frustrating. However, it’s important not to check out after we’re done competing, especially not at the national level.

My mom always encourages me after I’ve stopped advancing to go cheer on my friends who are still competing, or watch what did advance to help me for future years of competition. Every year I’ve done this, and every year I have walked away from those rounds with 1) a better understanding of why I didn’t advance, and 2) a motivation to work harder next season. I think there’s a lot we can learn from each other as students, and nationals provides a great opportunity because of the differences in regions and judge-pools. Making it to nationals is a huge achievement, and certainly something to be proud of; even those who don’t advance have come so far. But it’s crucial to take in every moment of this experience, and soak up the resources freely available to us that are certainly not found at every tournament.

I encourage you to watch a whole room of any event in finals, take a shot a personally ranking the students in your opinion. This gives you a greater appreciation for the difficulty of our judge’s task. Watch debate rounds of those who advance past you – evaluate what edge they may have that you lack, or what you can take away from them as speakers. Encourage your friends who are still competing, and branch out to make new friends. Nationals is an exciting tournament, and an amazing week of opportunity to learn, even after the competition is over for us personally.

This article was written by one of our awesome Lasting Impact! interns, after they graduate, their name will be released.

photo by: julieanne photography