Mon Mar 16 12:39:20 CST 1998
Last semester, sometime after the Kentucky tournament I called my coach in
the middle of the night to tell her that I it was no longer an option for
me debate anymore. I was an emotional and physical wreck. At this point,
I guess it would be important to give some background into my debate
experience. I joined the debate team about 2 yrs prior to quitting. I'm
one of those walk-ons everyone is always talking about, bored with the
classroom and looking for something to keep me out of trouble. After
feeling incredibly intimidated and learning the new language, I decided to
stick with it. I met some really great people and absorbed interesting
information I otherwise would have never sought out.
The trouble happened somewhere between ADI, where I had a very positive
experience, and the middle of the semester. I came back and began cutting
cards like a madwoman, gathering information while still learning where it
fit in the argument. I was already on the listserve so I read many posts
dealing with specific arguments people had already put together on the
topic, some really in depth arguments. That's when I started to freak a
little. How in the world were the six of us less experienced debaters
going to catch up with the depth of argument that some had already achieved
in less than a month after the release date? I could be a very selfish
debater and not research anything but the stuff I understood well or we
could continue collectively to put positions together and hope that we
would make it through the next tournament with our dignity in tact. I
chose what was behind door #2 because I'm not about that selfish stuff.
What resulted was more or less the same thing that happens when you are on
a stationary bicycle, except I wasn't getting any healthier. I was doing
the work and not getting anywhere. I wasn't getting enough sleep. My
nervous system was working overtime (for those of you that remember me at
Kentucky,...the little sallow looking Cuban woman that couldn't keep
anything down, although that was partially due to a funky bowl of Chili's
Southwestern Veggie soup).
Yep, things were not looking too cute. I began to lose my self esteem. I
just didn't think I was smart anymore. In short, I was miserable. A
feeling that I had never experienced ever before in my life. When did the
people on these big teams have time to sleep and eat. Well, they did sleep
and eat...debate. For every card I cut, they had 100. Yes, there are many
things wrong with debate as in any organization. The one thing that kept
going trough my mind as I read stuff on e-debate was something that my
partner at ADI said,"Michelle, i see you and you walk the line between the
debater and the other...". It was a club of people that had been doing
this type of thing since their freshman year in college. It was designed
and maintaned for them. The process of learning the game was over for
them. It was time to crush, to dominate. This was competitive. If you
wanted t learn, go read a book.
All the other issues that people had talked about, minority involvment,
women in the activity affected me as well. But in the end, they were all
just factors in determining whether or not i should continue to debate, in
light of how deeply exhausted I was.
I've recently read a few things that sound like good ideas form the
perspective of a walk-on minority woman. A later release date is one.
Maybe I wouldn't have burnt out so early. Now, I'd just rather coach
walk-on novices. I never want to be as miserable as I was last semester.
Just my 5 bucks worth. I've been saving up for this one.
Keeping my head above water,
Making a wave when I can,
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