Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Glimpse of the November Topics

The Galactic Super-Novice

Last Saturday we witnessed the perceptible bursts of light which emit from the surface of novices at their first tournament.  The very visible moments when exhilaration overtakes fear and a certain realization that everything the coach and teammates have being saying until now, really are true.  Even by our standards, the first novice tournament of the season is a small one.  First off, it's in a remote location, an hour from everywhere.  Secondly, a more conveniently located University offers a competing Policy Debate tournament each year at the same time, and while not every school in our district does Policy it does seem to siphon off some of the support for the novice tournament which also includes Policy Debate in its competitive schedule.  Nevertheless, the tournament is efficient, the hosts are very accommodating and everyone gets home in time to watch their favorite college footfall teams. O..H..

Inside the Tab Room

Typically the novice tournaments are judged by student debaters, most of whom are current varsity debaters.  The coaches tend to mill around in the tab room.  For many, it is the first time they have seen one another since last season so there is a certain comfortable familiarity as old acquaintances reconnect and catch up on various happenings.  Over in speech-world, the coaches were relaxed and friendly even though as the year progresses toward the major district qualifying tournaments the intensity will no doubt increase as it does every year.  For what it is worth, when I first began working as a debate coach, speech-world was like another planet to me, full of drama and energy that seemed to burst out of competitors in strange and unnatural ways.  But most amazing to me, the same kind of drama and energy emanated from the coaches as well.  It is a foreign world to me, but I must confess, over the years it is a world for which I gained enormous respect for the work and dedication of these students and coaches. And seriously, who possibly was not entertained by "Tammy the T-Rex" at the NFL National Tournament?  Even a die-hard debate coach like myself thoroughly enjoyed it..

At this tournament, I did my duty tabbing debate, Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum and Policy.  I also helped tab Student Congress which probably took as long as all the others combined.  In fact, it took twice as long since I foolishly exited the tab sheet without saving the results.  Clearly a rookie mistake.  When I first started tabbing several years ago, Congress was tabbed by a district Congress guru who had special spreadsheets all prepared and no one was quite sure what he did, but somehow results were always tabbed to every one's satisfaction.  Today we use Speechwire for most district tournaments which handles Congress tabbing as well as every other speech and debate event we do with relative ease.  Even I can do it, though some of my colleagues may dispute that claim.

A Recap of Sorts

I think there would be little gained from discussing particulars of cases which were run in a novice tournament judged by students.  Besides, I am not inclined to ever discuss the cases I have personally judged until the regular season or topic has ended.  I feel a certain responsibility to my fellow coaches not to broadcast their kids' cases to the world.  I stick to that creed even though I know that midway through the topic everyone knows their competitors cases anyway.  So, for what it is worth, and I think perhaps it is worth very little, I will tell you the PF ballots overwhelmingly went Con and the LD ballots went Aff in the first round.  Nevertheless, the ballots in PF and LD split right down the middle afterwards and so it continued until the end of the tournament.  My final analysis?  It's way too early to tell.  Sorry.

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