A day ago, I woke up early on a Saturday morning for my last debate tournament. We didn’t do particularly well, but I didn’t really care how well we did. I just wanted to experience it for the last time.
I will miss sitting in a high school cafeteria for eight hours on a Saturday. I will miss taking my heels off to run through the hallways to get to my round on time. I will miss the lay judges who hand out low scores that ruin your rank. I will miss the lost ballots, discounted food from lunch, and endless reminders to keep the cafeteria clean.
I am not an Arnesen whose farewell will be mourned by the entire community. In fact, most people in my WACFL circuit will not even remember me. But debate isn’t about the trophies, medals, or flawless records. It’s about the activity and the community. And I hope to stay involved in both, even though I will no longer be the one at the podium.
For all of you debaters, please enjoy these moments. Do it for the experience. Take each round in stride, read every ballot (no matter how “wrong” you think the judge is), and sincerely thank each opponent. Strive to leave the community a little better than you found it.
I may not have any national titles to my name, but I hope that I leave behind a legacy that will be remembered by at least a handful of debaters, even if that legacy is just my trademark color coded cards.