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April 28, 2017

After three years competing on the speech team, and a high school experience that basically revolved around being bad at sports and debate, I’m pretty sure I have changed as a person. I, over the last year specifically, have learned some things about myself, speech, and maybe competition as a whole. Full disclosure: I’m not saying anything I learned is absolutely true. It’s just what I, as an individual, learned. Still, though, I’ve gained some perspective over the last three years of speech, even if it isn’t sports. Is this advice? I doubt it. Maybe. This week’s column is just as much for me as it is for Monmouth and the speech team. It’s, I guess, a reflection on things I’ve learned after all the nationals hubbub.

Obvious statement alert: Winning is really fun. Equally obvious is that not everyone can “win,” if we’re defining winning as finishing in first place. In an event like forensics, it’s almost impossible to guarantee a win, anyway. Between nationals, the regular season, and a random post-season tournament in Louisiana, Monmouth as a school placed twice all year. That doesn’t make the season a wash, though. It means we have work to do, but we should celebrate the two we have, considering last year we managed zero. The process to getting to the fun part sucks.

This, in particular is something I have had a hard time learning. Last year, in particular, was rough for the team. At least, the first semester was. I learned that in order to be really good at something, you have to get to the point where you are giving it everything you have. And then you have to lose anyway. There are no congratulatory pats on the back when you’re sitting in the back of a hot auditorium watching every other school do well. “You guys are so talented” means a little bit less when you’re losing. But when I got sick and tired of my best not being enough, we suddenly got better, hence this year. It wasn’t just me, but the team got better as a unit. Maybe they didn’t learn the same lessons I did, but they used whatever they did learn.

I still have about a year left in my speech career. Either 12 or 14 tournaments, depending on what we qualify for. That’s 12 to 14 chances to figure this whole thing out. I probably won’t. But what I learn from speech isn’t just about speech. It’s about how I should approach everything. Doing well at a job or in school is awesome, but the work to get there isn’t always as cool. But if I have learned anything from this year, it’s that there’s nothing quite like rolling up your sleeves and getting to work.

Anthony Adams
Sports Columnist

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