Speech team, or Forensics, seems to create a different world every Saturday, in which the norm is professionalism and friendly respect among teenagers for their strengths. The competition itself is only one facet of the powerful love speech kids have for the activity. Between the spoken and unspoken rules and standards, speech kids are brought closer together in all areas of life, like no other extra-curricular has the power to do. These are four aspects of speech team that all competitors will understand:
- The little reliable moments of speech team are terrifying, funny, and exciting. Chills run down the backs of people facing off with stunning girls in the legendary red suits and lipstick. Nervousness is consuming after having inconsistent timing in your piece, a world in which mere seconds can make or break you. The walls or lockers probably know pieces better than competitors do after the countless performances they’ve seen. Schools become so recognizable that many can maneuver their way around, years after competing there. A similar situation can occur after hearing the same classic speech pieces in rounds to the point of near memorization. The only instance in which this isn’t mind-numbingly boring is when two people are performing the same script, in which case you can compare and contrast the two. After a long day of performances, immense relief fills the auditorium after hearing that the one clap system will be in place during awards ceremonies. It is the consistency of inconsistencies that makes speech team so interesting.
- Needless to say, there are many unconventional talents acquired in different events. The art of holding a binder and flipping pages with flawless emotion and timing is frequently overlooked outside of the speech world. Nevertheless, the skills and lessons tournaments teach are used throughout life. Some can be obvious, like perfecting public speaking by drowning out physical distractions such as touching your hair or slouching. Writing, improvisation, and memorization are continually predominant, regardless of category. There are also larger values learned over time, like not overestimating others and degrading yourself. Just because the boy sitting across the room is carrying a fancy briefcase (likely filled with nothing!), it doesn’t make him any more competent than you. Composure, patience, and decorum are necessities for being successful in speech. This is true in a variety of different settings, like the workplace or school. Speech is simply where intensity meets dedication, which always changes people for the better.
- Those who were born to act and those who just wanted to try something new are both ingrained with confidence at speech tournaments. It all begins with finding that coach-approved perfect fitting blazer and pants. After seeing all the other competitors in the same exact outfit, the effect starts to wear off. However, it is quickly restored after witnessing a skilled rival break a basic speech rule that many would never dream of doing. This serves as a reminder that nobody is perfect or uniform. Sometimes you are the person who makes a mistake in a round, and that’s okay in speech because one section does not concretely determine your success. An incomparable sensation of grace and joy rushes over those who have the privilege to utter the words, “I’m double entered, may I please be excused?” Tension, fear, and excitement build before finals in the cafeteria, but after breaking for the first time, the pure adrenaline incites a level of preparation never felt before. This all culminates to the ultimate self-accomplishment of winning your category, getting your hands on a finals poster, and seeing your name on famed speech forums.
- Sitting by people on a cold bus at 4 am without coffee, with a full face of makeup, can be the perfect new beginning of friendships. Rationing out food and water happens shortly after the first round when the team collectively realizes there is only candy at the school and the bus will leave at 8 pm. Learning your teammate’s pieces is inevitable and laughing, crying, or pretending to do either out of support while watching them in finals is too. This familiarity makes their pep talks even better because they’ve watched pieces alter and grow for an entire year. When restlessness or sadness starts to set in, a constant comfort is found in the bumpy bus rides home. The frustration of getting a six with only good comments can be overwhelming but with a reassuring, “There’s always next tournament!”, from a friend, it is dismissed. When returning to school on Monday, there are confused looks shared by people listening in on conversations and wondering what an OO or HDA is or who “K2” is. The long-lasting bond with teammates and speech kids is truly unbreakable, no matter where you go.