Five years after my speech and debate career began--as a 13-year-old kid trying to compete in LD without knowing what a value was--it ended. It's a little bit hard to believe how far I've come and how much I've learned in those five years.
I learned that in order to do well in anything--including speech and debate--you have to put in many hours of work. It doesn't come easy. I learned that pride truly does come before a fall. I learned that the competitors who were the most content and who I looked up to the most were those who were happy no matter what placing God gave them, as long as they did their best. Those who were willing to take time out of their own preparation to help someone else. Those who were willing to drop everything to give advice. Although I tried to keep the proper perspective, there were many times when I fell short. I continue to look up to the alumni who had an impact on me early on in my debate career, and I hope God will use me in the lives of others like he used them in my life.
Although I will greatly miss attending debate camp, competing at tournaments, and the adrenaline rush while speaking in front of judges, I'm ok with my career being done. During our last debate round at Regionals, Josh and I debated a new team. It was their first year, and they had done incredibly well. They definitely have a bright future ahead of them. After the round, they told us it meant a lot to them when we prayed with them before each round, and that they looked up to us. Without realizing it, Josh and I had an impact on a new team, that will be debating for many years to come. Like so many made an impression on me during my early years as a competitor.
I was sad for a while after nationals, because it was over. But then I thought about my favorite moments during the tournament--when most of my region came to support me during my semi-final extemp round, late night worship on the lawn, and conversations with good friends. None of that will change. My friends will still support me, we can still get together and worship, and Facebook makes it easy to stay in touch. Besides, I can still come back to tournaments to coach and judge. The best parts of speech and debate will continue for many years to come. I'm so thankful for the years I was able to compete in NCFCA and Stoa, and I'm excited to make many more plans to keep in touch with old friends, and to come back to tournaments.