There’s no doubt making it to Nationals in Speech and Debate is a big deal! For some in might be the one and only time. I get asked a lot, “Is it worth the expense? Should I go? What are the benefits of competing at a National level?” Here is my answer…
Heather says… My family has been blessed with the opportunities to compete on a National level for eight years in a row. I have brought my novice competitors, traveled over 1300 miles (by car) to bring my children, yet we have even turned down the opportunity to compete. The way I see it, there are two main reasons to compete at Nationals..
The Experience – Whether you are a first time competor or looking to gain skills to advance you in years to come, experience is an excellent reason to go to a competition on a higher level. Is it worth the time and money? I have known students to go to a National Championship with only one speech, sometimes only a half of speech, if you include Duo;). Yes, that’s right they spent time, energy, and resources for possibly only 30 minutes, or less, of a presentation. However, they really went for the “experience”. Only your family can decide if it’s worth it.
But I can say, there is something special about attending a National Championship- the relationships, the celebration, and not to mention, to watch and partake in the high caliber speeches and debates. Those alone are great reasons to attend! The memories and lasting friendships can sometimes be a once in a lifetime experience. If you are a competitor, don’t forget to soak it in! If you are a coach- judge, judge, judge! This is your opportunity to learn and grow!
In addition to it being a neat experience. There is also the experience to help you grow as a competitor. By competing at Nationals you will gain experience. There has to be a first time competing at a national level, that experience will help you grow for the next time. By scoping out the national-like competition for the first time, you will know what you need to bring the next time. There are all sorts of little things you will experience, that you will be able to grow from In years to come.
If you do go to Nationals, be sure to make the most of it! Talk to people, competitors, and vendors. Watch speech and debate! Figure out how to make the most of your next season.
To Compete – Ah, yes! The competitor goes to Nationals to compete! You love your speech, you love debating, you are passionate about your message, and want to make an impact! You are going to put the countless hours into your cases. You are going to go over each and every ballot from the season to make sure you are giving your speeches everything that needs to be given.
However…. If you are that competitor – don’t get too caught up in the competition! Remember to give back, connect with those around you, and soak it in! The trophy will get tossed aside, I guarantee it! The people, the relationships, the advice… that is the stuff that lasts.
Your high school days in Speech and Debate might seem like it lasts forever. But one day it will be over and this too will end, and what you will have left is the memories. Not everyone can say they walked away a Champion at Nationals, but you can have the experience of a lifetime, if you want it!? And Remember, You Got This!