We Are The Champions!
We survived! It was a long two-ish weeks filled with research, practice and little social interaction, but we survived! And we emerged victorious! Despite a long road, which was not without its obstacles, the Tonganoxie High School 4-Speaker debaters are State Champions!
When we left Friday morning after a great sendoff from the school which included a debate rap and goody bags from the Student Council, we were excited to debate, but anticipating some very tough rounds. Our first challenge came from Sumner Academy. A formidable rival, they won our regional tournament and we were determined to not let it happen again. And, luckily, it didn't. That night, after debating three rounds, the 4-Speaker team was in second place. Just ahead of us was the team from Fort Scott, and just behind was the team Field-Kinley High School.
We woke on Saturday morning knowing that the rounds we debated today would make or break our tournament. The affirmative's round against Fort Scott was imperative, as they still sat just ahead of us in the tournament rankings. Luckily, the affirmative team, Nic Irick and myself, emerged from that round victorious. As long as both the affirmative and negative won their final rounds, we would be in contention for first, second or third.
After our seventh round, which was also my, Emily, and Nic's final round of high school debate EVER, we were feeling good. But we couldn't squeeze results out of Mr. Thomas, our assistant coach, or Mr. Harrell. Their tight-lipped silence made the awards ceremony even more stressful, but as the placings were read, we became more and more confident. Third place? Haven High School. Second place? Our rivals, Fort Scott. Which left Tonganoxie in first place.
Teammate Alex Bartels probably summarized the experience of winning best when she said "This is easily one of the best days of my life." And it most certainly was. It was the best way to end my debate career and justify the weeks of research that went into those seven crucial rounds.
But 4-Speaker wasn't the only team to experience success. Sophomores Brady Field and Lindsey Truesdell debated their way into the elimination rounds of the 2-Speaker tournament. While they fell in octofinals (which consists of the top 16 teams out of roughly 60) to the eventual 2-Speaker state champs, they certainly gained valuable experience and set a precedent for next year which I'm sure they'll have no trouble meeting.
I had always thought that I would greet my last debate round of my high school career with joy. But after giving my last speech yesterday, it hit me. That was my last debate speech ever. And it didn't go at all how I envisioned my last speech going. I had always thought that it would be eloquent and moving, the best impromptu speech I had ever given. Instead, it was merely okay. It got my point across, but it wasn't anything special.
But that's how you learn in debate, or anything for that matter. You don't get a re-do. You just have to accept what you get and make the most of it. Sure, my last debate speech ever wasn't beautiful and moving, but did we still win the round? Yes. And did I still go on to be part of the team that won state? Yes.
So, in the end, the fact that my last speech wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be is okay, because my high school debate career ended in much better way than I ever thought it would.