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Welcome to the Debate This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      “Uh, I, uh ...” I was terrified. The whole thing had been an accident. I had never meant to join the debate team, I was a swimmer. Swimmers don’t debate. Swimmers don’t even talk to each other. In fact, the only thing swimmers do with their mouths is blow bubbles.

“M-my m-my p-partner and I-I ...” My friend Morgan had called begging for some last-minute company at a camp her mom was making her attend: debate camp. Debate camp? The very concept made me laugh. The camp, she told me, was supposed to develop research and writing skills and improve public speaking. With the word “research,” I was sold. Debate camp or not, I would gladly attend anything that would help me prepare for the following year’s four AP classes. Serendipity was smiling.

“...s-support t-the r-resolution ...” I hadn’t realized that if I attended the camp, I would be joining the debate team. After seven days, two drill rounds, one barbeque, and no campfire, the captain gave me a practice schedule and welcomed me to the team. I scoffed, but the coach obliterated my rejection with a cheerful “You’ll be great!” I learned a valuable lesson that day: never, ever try to argue with a debate coach.

“Our f-first point ...” I don’t know what the coach was thinking when he partnered me with a senior debater and tossed us into a varsity round for my first meet. Our opponents were a pair of suit-clad varsity veterans. They had leather briefcases and slicked-back hair. I had a notepad and a sweater vest. When they spoke, their words took flight; mine staggered. I kept speaking though, more afraid of disappointing my partner than of filleting my nervous system. She gave me an encouraging smile and I forced out my sentences. We not only survived that first round, but won - along with the following three rounds. My partner and I took second place at that meet. This gave me a shot of confidence. Maybe debate wouldn’t be so bad, after all.

My newfound confidence diffused from debate into the classroom. Debate gave me a strength that I never knew existed in me. My social and debating skills increased simultaneously. My partner and I tore through the conference, win after win, packing the trophy cases and trouncing our opponents. A fledgling debater once strangled by anxiety, I was able to untangle my knotted nerves and soar as one of the leading debaters in our Section. No one was surprised when we took first place at the District National Qualifiers and won a trip to Texas to debate among the top 200 partner pairs from across America. It was an incredible first year. At camp the next summer, I was the captain handing out practice schedules.

“ ... I strongly urge you to vote pro. Thank you for judging.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Bookdragon said...
Sept. 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm
I am in debate as well,  best thing that ever happened to me.  What did you compete in? I am a Lincoln-Douglas debator.  This was well written!
 
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