There is no way to explain the world of debate tournaments to people who have never lived in that world. I'm not even sure if there is a way to explain them to adults who are now part of them, but who were not part of them when they were kids. It's a very insulated, intense experience. Three days of a 15-16 hour/day debate tournament feels like two weeks. Lifelong friendships form (I can attest to that personally) with people who understand why you do and say the ridiculous things you do and why you value the seemingly pointless things you do. In Therese's league (NCFCA - Christian homeschool league), it's even more personal and intense because everyone there has your values system. Where else can you see whole groups of people praying before events? Yes, there is some dating (which I have absolutely no problem with), but there is none of what I guess would now be called the hook up mentality, but back when I was debating was, well, a slightly more innocent hook up mentality. When I see Therese talking to boys, I'm mentally saying, "Yay! She's completely coming out of her shell!" rather than, "Stay.Away.From.My.Baby." What a great feeling.
From my perspective, though, it's such a weird feeling. Even when I judge debate rounds, I'm still debating them. I flow the Affirmative arguments in one color, the Negative arguments in another color, and my responses in a third color. I really love talking to the debaters (it's so hard not to feel like one of them sometimes. I have to remind myself - you're old, you're old, you're old. It's not that I think I'm a kid; I don't. It's that I am so passionate about it. Sometimes I really envy my friend (okay, former friend - he dumped me when I couldn't celebrate his relationship with a man) who is a high school debate coach. I think I would have been good at that job.)).
Anyway, enough about me. On to Therese. I am so proud of the debater she is becoming. When she gets the right partner, she will be unstoppable. For this year, though, she is killing it in Impromptu. Impromptu is very hard to succeed in when you are young, primarily because the older, more experienced kids are just so good at it! They have been competing in it for upwards of 5-6 years. Many of them excel at canned impromptu speeches (a pet peeve of mine, and not a great move if I'm your judge). They tend to come across as more mature and more poised (duh). At the last tournament, Therese qualified for regionals, though. At this tournament she placed 7th. She is like the little engine that could. Last year she qualified for regionals in debate. At the age of 12. At her second tournament ever. Doesn't happen. This year she qualified in impromptu. At 13. Fairly atypical. To get to finals, you have to get 1st or 2nd in your room in semis (out of 8), so just getting to finals is ridiculous. Then, not to get last in finals was amazing!
Forgive the rather stream-of-consciousness post. Call it a download of sorts. For now, I'm just glad there is a month until the next tournament!