I’m at the National Invitational Tournament of Champions in Siloam Springs, Ark. 600-or-so students and their families are winding down an entire week of competition (ends tomorrow).
If you follow my blog, you know that I’m really, really into this community of speakers and debaters. You also may know that I run a preparation camp the weekend before to help prepare students for their big week of competition. And if you’re a Twitter or Facebook friend of mine, you know that our successes have been outstanding.
But as with all competition—especially the final championship of the year—there are many more losers than there are winners. Most of the teams are out of the race. Yesterday two-thirds of the speakers were dropped from the first outrounds of speech. More eliminations will occur today, and the final rounds—only the cream of the crop—will compete tomorrow.
That’s a lot of failure.
That’s a lot of disappointment.
That’s a lot of work poured into a slight chance of making it to the top.
But you know what? It is all worth it. I’m telling you, there is no place I’d rather be than right here in the heat of the most exciting community of speakers and debaters here at NITOC. Even in the face of defeat and loss, positives buoy this ship to the top…
- Connection. The networking these students and families are engaging in is incredible. Friendships from around the country that will last a lifetime are forged at Nationals.
- Community. The deepest friendships are forming throughout the competitive week. You can tell by looking around.
- Conversation. We’re a communication community, and you see conversations all over the place.
- Camaraderie. I love seeing how these kids love each other. Clubs from around the country are cheering each other onward, and lending a shoulder to cry on when they get knocked out.
- Commitment. The value of the speech and debate activity is shared here, and win or lose, we’re all committed to seeing it flourish.
I suppose there are more positives, but these are some I observe. I’ve been involved since 1996, and I’m consistently reminded of how awesome it is, especially at the end of the longest tournament of a long competitive year.
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How are my campers doing? I’m extremely pleased with my camp alumni and especially my intensive camp alumni. Two-thirds of my Lincoln-Douglas debaters advanced, 1/2 of my Team-Policy debaters advanced. Many are still swinging this morning.
How are my kids doing? Lydia and Micah were representing the Jeubs this week. Both of them are still in the count with their Duo, and Lydia is still competing with her OO, Expos and Lincoln-Douglas debate. I’m a very proud dad.
Breaks are in an hour. Gotta go get breakfast for the kids. Time to get rolling into the Friday of competition.