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The Power of Wall Speaking
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” –Marianne Williamsom.
I love talking, almost as much as eating. I could talk for hours. I love to make people laugh, and cry. So freshman year at High School, I joined the speech team.
I had very little information about high school speech. The speech I did from elementary and junior high speech team, which was basically humorous duet acting and humorous monologues. So I was going in blindfolded. The head coach, Mr. Adams, was one of the nicest people I have ever met. He gave us all a list of the events that we would compete with at a speech team. He explained that you sign up for coaching on your own time and that he has high hopes for the season.
My first meeting with a coach was that next Monday. I had figured I would do something funny. I chose original comedy or humorous interpretation. I told the coach my ideas and we made the decision that original comedy was what I wanted to do. I thought of the perfect story. An Anchorman (who isn’t really smart), has to do every single aspect of the news, by himself. It was one of my more brilliant ideas. Aaron Harris: “Boss you should know by now that you don’t have to tell me anything. I know what to do.”I met with a coach once a week to work on plot, story, and characters. Eventually, it was finished. The next step was to work on characters and memorization. The coach told me that you have to “pop” or move between characters as fast as you can. That’s exactly what I did; I practiced on my own and with a coach. Then, the day before the first tournament came, I was very jumpy. I was going to meet with a different coach that day so I would have a different opinion. Little did I know that he would be the one that would change my aspect of speech and help me create a master piece. John Cooper is one the most hilarious people out there. I knew he was great by what other people said about him. So I decided to see him for myself. I went up to do my original comedy, hands shaking, I began. I made my first joke, and he laughed. I could not believe it, he laughed! I finished my piece and sat down. He said I have a great piece and that if I work on it, and work on character movement, I could win a lot. Right then, I knew that I was ready for my first speech tournament.
I was told we had to wear a nice shirt, tie, and pants that would distract the other people from watching. You also had to get there very early in the morning. My mom dropped me off at the school where the tournament was held and I walked in and found my team. You know that feeling you get when climb a mountain and then look down? Think of that feeling amplified to its max. I barely knew anybody. I recognized the head coach, and some people from theatre, but that was it. I sat down, and then a girl sat down in front of me. She asked me what my name was and what event I do. I told her my name is Adam and I do original comedy. She then introduced herself as Kelsey and she does original comedy as well. She told how much fun this year was going to be and that U-High will dominate. Then it was time for warm-ups. It was very strange, doing the warm-ups. They said little rhymes and songs to warm up their voices and for clarity. Then, they put pens in their mouths and began to talk. It was very strange. Like going to a foreign country and being surrounded by another culture. Our coaches told each of us what times we preformed and what rooms they were in. My first performance was at 8 and I would go third. That was in 15 minutes.
I walked down the halls of the school watching everyone going to their appointed destination. Remember what I said about the foreign country? It happened again. As I walked down the hall, I saw people talking, not always to other people, but to walls. Some were holding little black books and talked to walls, others were in very strange position talking to the walls. It was like the walls spoke to them. I entered my room with five minutes to spare. I remember exactly where I sat. The far corner, front row, and I had a water bottle and Kleenex with me. Other people came in. Some came to watch, some were performers, two of them were judges. The judges gave all the performers a sheet to fill out. I filled out everything except…uh-oh. I forgot to make a title. I only had seconds before I had to turn it in. So I thought of a name. I would call my piece “The News”, simple yet tells what my piece is all about. They called the first performer. He went up, did his piece, then he was done. He was alright. As they finished making their markings, I took a long drink of my water. I thought about my piece, I had a great Sarah Palin joke in there. But…what if one of the judges, or both of them, are republican? Then I’m screwed. They called the next person. She went up, did her piece, and sat down. She was really good, probably varsity. I finished the water bottle in those last seconds, cleared my throat and prepared myself for my piece. They called my name. I slowly walked up to the front of the room and began my piece. When one of the judges started laughing, I knew I was doing something great. I continued my piece and sat down. I felt terrific!
I ran back to the table where my team was and felt exhilarated. My next round was in thirty minutes, so I had time to eat. That time came and I went to my next round. I was so excited right now that I knew I was going to do great! I walked into the room and two other boys were in there. Both in deep conversation they didn’t even notice me coming in. I overheard part of their conversation; one of them was talking about how he made his speech five minutes before he came here, the person agreed and said that he made his last night. Another person joined the room and joined in the conversation. First off, I thought he was a joke. Second, he didn’t even look like he was prepared. He wore a storm troopers tie, he was giving the impression of a man with no taste and also having no seriousness for the tournament at all. I filled out the information sheet for the two judges and we began the round. I waited for my turn. While doing so, I drank another whole water bottle. My turn came. I was half-way through my speech, and then… blank. Nothing. I couldn’t remember my line! In those few seconds, my mind raced. I couldn’t figure it out, my mind just stopped. They all starred at me like I was a monkey in a zoo. A couple seconds flew by and I improvised my way out of the situation. And to top it all off, I stuttered the ending of my speech. I felt embarrassed; I knew people would hear how I messed up. I walked back to where my team was and waited for the final results. I knew I would never make it.
We waited for the other rounds to finish so the men and women in charge can put up the list of finalists up. People rushed to the window to see if they made it to the finals. I walked slowly towards the list knowing what awaited me there. I was wrong. I placed third and made it to the novice finals! The world stopped, everyone in the area froze except for me starring at the list. No words can describe the feeling when you see your name up on that list. I looked at the time, I had 15 minutes to prepare. I called my mom and told her what happened. I then found a wall and practiced my speech. I found my room, I wrote out my information sheet, and waited. At this moment, I did not care what happened to me. Whether I got dead last or first, I placed in a final, and that’s what matters. My turn came. I walked to the front of the room with proud. It felt great to hear other people laugh at what I wrote.
It was over, and I was relieved. Remembering that I had drunk at least three bottles of water today, I suddenly had to use the bathroom. Now I waited for the awards. The waiting made me drink another water bottle. My mother surprised me by coming to see me. I introduced her to the Mr. Adams. It was time for the awards. Since my event started with an o, and the awards went in alphabetical order, mine was one of the last. They called up original comedy for varsity and novice. Kelsey and I took our places on the stage. They did novice first. My heart started beating faster and faster, the next person, faster, then the next. Faster. Three people had passed and my name was none of them. This was a good thing. Then my name was called and I got third place in my first tournament. Mr. Adams congratulated me and I sat back down for the rest of the ceremony. After the ceremony, John Cooper went up to my mom and said that she now has a reason for me to do my piece for her. It was the start of a great year.
“You know that feeling where everything feels right? Where you don’t have to worry about tomorrow or yesterday, where you feel safe and know you’re doing the best you can? There’s a word for that, it’s called love. L-O-V-E.” –Akeelah.
Mr. Adams, John Cooper, and Kelsey were all correct. Mr. Adams said he hoped for us to go far. Kelsey said we are going to dominate. As a team, we won 128 medals and 4 tournaments including regionals and sectionals (which hasn’t been done in over 25 years). John Cooper said I had a great piece and if I worked hard, I could get first. I won 8 medals, which were all top novices, firsts, varsity awards and more. I also added humorous duet acting to my success half-way through the year. It was a great year. And all in one day, I had learned two things. One, how to put myself into a nervous wreck. Two, I mastered the power of speaking to walls.