Sometimes I talk to walls…don’t you?

Sometimes I talk to walls. Well, I guess to be exact, I used to talk to walls (and I’m not just talking about when I was a little kid or when I was going through an awkward stage). For four years straight during high school, I talked to walls every week especially bright and early on Saturday mornings. For four years, I even made money encouraging others to talk to walls…

Okay, so you’re probably thinking, “This girl is crazy. Who talks to walls?” That’s fine if you think that, but before making any hasty judgments, please let me explain.

In high school, I was a proud member of the speech and debate team. I loved it so much that I chose to coach for four years during undergrad. While I can’t say that I loved every minute of it, the blessings and good fortune that were bestowed on me from this event far outweighed any negative aspects.

If you’re unfamiliar with speech-let me give you a breakdown:

Students spend countless hours during the week learning and mastering a speech in categories such as Prose/Poetry, Duo Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation. Speeches can range from something as exciting as Alice in Wonderland, to more thrilling pieces such as The Shining. Others spend countless hours researching a particular topic that they will debate, while still others research current events or quotes and give a speech about a topic that they only just chose minutes earlier. My personal favorite categories are Original (where an individual writes their own speech and presents it to the judges) and Oratorical (where an individual presents a previously written speech).

On Saturday mornings, speech and debate team members wake up bright and early for a day of intense competition. Now, I know there are skeptics out there who might doubt that this sort of event could be considered intense. To them, all I have to say is-come to a district competition where individuals are earning spots for State competition and you will feel the tension before you even walk in the doors. Believe me, the tension and competitive nature of the event is palpable. Nevertheless, students wake up early, dress in suits and business attire and spend their entire Saturday (and sometimes, Fridays) being judged on their speech and competing for a spot in the top six (or seven) of their category. Your reward-a beautiful trophy and the respect (sometimes) of your fellow competitors.

Sometimes when I think about how serious people take speech, it really makes me laugh. Why on earth would something like this attract so many people and what on earth could be fun about it? Why would anyone want to wake up early on a Saturday morning when they could be sleeping? What’s the point in memorizing a speech that you might do poorly on because a judge didn’t understand your interpretation? I get it. Trust me-in eight years, all of these thoughts have definitely crossed my mind. But like I said, the pros far outweigh the cons here.

This post is supposed to be about a goal we have. Well, my goal is to one day have a speech team of my own. For four years, I was an assistant coach for my high school and I loved that job more than any other job I’ve had. I can’t say that there weren’t moments where I wanted to quit, but they were never because of my kids or speech itself. Being in graduate school, this is the first time I haven’t been involved in speech in eight years and I miss it EVERY DAY. I think I learned a lot during that time and this is something I definitely want to do.

Both as a competitor and as a coach, I made friends who I will cherish throughout my life. I learned about what it means to be a humble winner and what it means to lose gracefully. I learned how to talk with my face so that I never had to say a word to my kids about what they were doing wrong. They just knew by looking what I meant. I learned what it means to be compassionate, but I also learned what it means to stand up for what you believe in. As a competitor, I learned how to stand still when I talked, and I taught others how to walk properly. I gossiped, ate my fair share of doughnuts, and pulled pranks. I laughed until I cried (because we got yelled at by the hotel) and cried until I laughed (NFL’s is always an emotional rollercoaster). I talked to walls when I practiced on Saturday mornings and I encouraged others to talk to walls. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about certain political issues and saw some hilarious speeches that I still laugh about today. I learned and I grew as an individual because of this experience. Although this was a competition, these people became like family members. Going into the tab room, you can definitely see a family dynamic at play between many of the individuals. When a coach was experiencing something great or something not so great, I believe that most of us experienced this joy or pain with them. Speech isn’t just about the competition. It’s about something far greater.

As a psychology student, I realize that we should set goals that we have some control over. With this goal, I’m not entirely certain that I have control over this. At least where I’m from, most head coaches are high school teachers. Since I’m clearly not going to be a high school teacher, I’m not sure how this goal really fits into my life plan. I (think) want to get my PhD in psychology and I’m not sure how I will be able to balance everything, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. All I know is-I’m not involved in speech now, but I really want to be. Hopefully down the road this goal will fit into my life path 🙂

Yay speech!



5 thoughts on “Sometimes I talk to walls…don’t you?

    • Me too. I do not for one minute regret that I spent most of my weekends in high school with speech or band. I have such good memories of those times.

      Jeannette, maybe you could judge for a team some weekends? I continued judging periodically after I stopped coaching. I couldn’t make the time commitment to coach any longer, but I sometimes was able to judge. I will admit that I felt a bit ostracized and uncomfortable at that point because for the first time in my speech/debate experience I was an outsider. It was weird.

      • Those were definitely two of my favorite activities in high school without a doubt. I’ve thought about judging here, but so far I haven’t been able to find the time to even contact a school in the area to judge for. I’m certain that it will completely weird going back in a different context, but at least it will keep me active!

  1. I was never exposed to Speech & Debate until I started hanging out with the three of you. The use of the word “forensics” to discuss speech and debate still seems odd to me, although I’m aware of its historical context. However, I wish we’d had something like this at my high school, since it probably would have made me a much more proficient public speaker. Aside from my heavy involvement in band, I did Law Day and Academic Team, though, and I enjoyed both of those. But, we had some people who would have been fantastic in this extracurricular.

    There has to be some outlet for you, Jeannette — I think Sarah’s suggestion is great. At least it would get you a foot in the door for more frequent involvement. Would there be any way for you to get involved with a leadership role through the NFL? Like, becoming a regional liaison or officer or something? We’re always encouraged to join professional organizations like NASPA or ACPA through our master’s program. Just a thought, though. 🙂

    • Yay for having similar extracurricular activities! I think I might try to judge for some schools here if I ever find the time. I’ll be home for a few weeks in December/January, so I’m hoping to judge for my alma mater while I’m back 🙂

      As for the leadership roles-I honestly don’t know. I’m sure there is something I could do, but it’s finding the time to do that something that could be challenging 🙂

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