Goodbye Debate..

Today is my last official day connected to debate… my resignation from NPTE is official today.

NPTE started as an alternative national championship 10 years ago.  We created a revised set of rules for debating and judging, an original way of ranking teams and some innovative ways of both running the tournament and communicating as a board.

I’m quite proud of our little organization — my work on the board was rather insignificant compared to Hubby’s, but I’m proud that I brought an outsider’s view on what makes sense.  I’ve also brought new perspectives as a coach of geographically challenged and community college teams.  I suppose I was the diversity person :).

When we started NPTE, Hubby had just finished a successful debate career but he hadn’t finished his BA.  I was in grad school, but hadn’t been for long.  Over the course of our involvement in NPTE, I completed an MA and Ph.D. in philosophy and Hubby has completed a BA, MA and most of a Ph.D. in political science as well as 1/2 of a JD.  We’ve moved two or three times, lost and gained cats and generally grew up.  When we started NPTE, Wikipedia didn’t exist — now there’s a wikipedia page devoted to our little idea… wow.

I started coaching debate because Hubby’s coach his sophomore year needed someone to help her out.  That was 1997 or so… the first debate nationals I attended was in March of 1998 in Lubbock TX.  My how time flies.

I’ve met some amazing people in the debate community.  Debaters are generally smart, funny and well-informed folks with good intentions and a fierce competitive side.  The debate community is quite open to differences among people and I’ve felt welcomed by coaches and students alike.

The year I did chemo, I turned up at the tournament bald and kinda cranky.  Folks were kind, funny and supportive.  It was great to get the multiple hugs and well-wishes from my peeps.

I decided to resign from NPTE because I’m simply not connected to the debate community anymore.  Several years ago a snotty little stink-pickle from Wyo called for my resignation.  I was thinking about resigning anyway, but I’d be dammed if I was going to do so because some self-important undergrad demanded it on the internet.  At the time, I was still plugged into the community but after a while my other interests took me away from a generally fantastic community.

So, to all of  you whom I coached — you know I love you and several of you will always be Steck Debate Kids…you can always come to me if you need life advice — go to Hubby for debate strategy 🙂 —

To those of you I judged, thank you for giving me  your best effort.  I hope our interactions were good and that you recall your overall debate careers with fondness. I hope that I set the conditions for you to do your best, which the way every judge should be.  When you get to be a judge, carry on those ideas… debaters aren’t chameleons who should be expected to change styles and methods to suit the whims of the judge — the judge should be open enough to the definition of “good debate” so that you can make your best argument.  Anybody who says or does otherwise is an ass-hat…. you may not be able to avoid the ass-hats, but knowing who they are is half the battle.

To the students I won’t coach or judge — you are the future of the event.  Keep it fun, competitive and smart.  Stand on your own parliamentary debate techniques and keep on learning new stuff.  Make the goal of winning the NPTE a goal worth attaining… the activity really is all about you, but a collective “you” not an individual you.

To my fellow coaches, keep fighting the good fight — you’ll always have a new team to influence and a new set of tournaments to travel to… but, your coaching pals are the constants in that sea of new faces.  Appreciate them, lean on them and go to them for the advice only other coaches can give.

To the new board members — hang on for a wild ride.  The NPTE board is a fantastic group of folks I never would have known in my “normal” life.  You’ll need to make decisions that impact the debate careers of others.  You’ll need to make controversial choices and stick with them as long as they make sense.  You’ll be publicly criticized by snotty undergrads who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are — but you know that the rest of the board understands the decision you had to make and they’ll back you up.  You’ll have a unique set of  virtual “meetings” and come away a better person, I know I did.

So — to the debate community, if you’re in my area, let me know and we’ll go have a beverage — just because I’m formally leaving the community doesn’t mean that I don ‘t love y’all —

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One Response

  1. Update — they named the NPTE championship trophy after Hubby and Me… Kinda cool, no?

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