The Cardinal

The reality of a first year debater

Melissa Marenkovic, Freshman Contributor

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As the beginning of your freshman year approaches, the anticipation has arisen, and the expectations are high for new opportunities. As you make your way through the crowded halls failing to find a familiar face, you make your way to your first class grasping your wrinkled schedule. Desperately looking for the array of numbers that match your homeroom.

As the next few weeks pass by, you begin to become more familiar with your surroundings, and you decide that you will try to open yourself up to new opportunities to make friends.

Being new makes you wonder how you can become more involved in your school, so you start to look into joining a club or two. You finally narrow your decision down to two clubs you will join. Leo’s club and the Speech and the debate team.

You sign up for these clubs and make room on your calendar to fulfill your determination to these groups. You decide to go to the first Speech and Debate meeting the following week.

As the date approaches for the first practice, your anticipation increases because you don’t know what to expect. With the stakes high, you walk into a room of new people unsure of what to do.

You introduce yourself to your new teammates, as they do the same. Everyone seemed friendly and supportive, because they were once standing in the same place you were with the same vulnerable facial expression.

Everyone who has previously debated in the Public Forums category years prior start introducing you to the process of debating and are helping you to become familiar with what to expect at weekly practices and weekend tournaments. So far you are overwhelmed because of all the information you are trying to process. As the meeting continues, everything begins to make a little bit more sense.

As the first meeting comes to an end, you feel a little bit better than you did at the start, but you are still nervous for the next one.

Your week continues to pass by, and before you know it, it is already time for your next meeting. Your fellow team members continue to familiarize you with the way tournaments will be set up, as well as the four rounds involved in them.

Your first tournament is approaching on the upcoming weekend, so that means you must begin to research and prepare. You have to prepare enough research to fit into a case, as well as have arguments ready just in case your opponents question the validity and strength of your side and evidence. You are given a topic that you will continue to debate for a few months before you switch, and you don’t know what side (pro or con) you will be presenting for your judges until you enter the round and flip a coin. Therefore, you have to research both sides.

As the week goes by, and you continue to prepare yourself, physically and mentally, before you know it, it is already Saturday. You wake up at 5:30 since you have to be at the high school and get on the bus to go to the tournament. The bus leaves at 7, and tournaments are at different schools everytime. You could go to East Liverpool, South Range, Poland, Columbiana, or any district that is within Ohio and Pennsylvania.

This tournament happens to be at East Liverpool. You get to the school, and there are a variety of different buses arriving at the same time carrying students from all different schools. Everyone heads for the entrance as your stomach flip flops as if it were a wave hitting the sandy shore repeatedly across the coastline.

You enter the huge building and walk into the cafeteria. A sea of pandemonium emerges as you make your entrance, and everyone turned to your school, as their eyes follow you to the table labeled, “Canfield Speech and Debate Team.”

You quickly sat down in an empty chair and take it all in, for these very people could possibly be your competitors for the upcoming rounds. You begin to feel less nervous, as you realized that everyone was facing the same thing right now and you are not alone.

Before you know it, someone in charge holding a microphone takes control of the room as the focus is shifted to him. He continues to announce that the first round ballot is now posted. Your stomach drops as you realize this is it. This is the moment you have prepared now as life flashed before your eyes.

The crowd surged to the board where the first round is posted, and you push through the sea to catch a glimpse of the ballot. Every debater is given a number, and yours is C03, so you find that C03 is facing C08 in room 324.

Your world is full of uncertainty, as the possibilities of the outcome are endless.

You make your way up to the 3rd floor where room 324 is located. You make it to the room, but the rule is that you must wait for your judge and opponents to arrive before you can enter the room. The anticipation is high at this moment, for you don’t know who you will be facing, or what it will be like, even though you have done mock rounds in the past.

Your opponents and judge arrive, and enter the room, as well as you. Your heart skips a beat, as you give your speech, and write a rebuttal, as well as a conclusion. Before you know it, the round has concluded.

You have completed round one, and it was nowhere near as intimidating as you thought it would be, it was actually kind of calming, and maybe even fun. As the rest of the tournament comes to an end, you realize that you were worried for no reason, and for the next tournament; you can hardly wait.

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The reality of a first year debater