Hey, pretty girl!
Senior year I made a decision that will forever affect my life. Instead of playing softball, I decided to join Eagan High School’s Speech Team (with a little push from the best head coach ever Mrs. Joni Anker). I was placed in the category of Informative Speaking (the one w/the boards if you’re familiar with speech).
I was nervous beyond belief at our pre-season mock tournament. I stumbled on my words and felt SO inexperienced…until someone said a few simple words to me (you know who you are). “You are going to well this season.” After that one comment, I began to loosen up. And that’s where the season all started.
The reason I posted this today is exactly a year ago I competed at my first tournament. The start of a long journey to who I am today.
The season was a wild ride filled with 6 final rounds, a novice championship win, 2 national tournaments and one of my speech coaches getting married during my practice. Speech gave me a different feeling than softball did. I was so supported regardless of how I did. I never felt put down or worthless. I felt empowered.
Now, that doesn’t mean speech wasn’t always easy. At sections, my anxiety got the best of me. I stumbled over words I ever had before and I didn’t even know why. One of my teammates (you also know who you are) was in a round with me and made eye contact with me and helped me regain control of my speech. You jeopardized your own ranking in that round by helping me, but in that moment you made me understand that we were a team still. Speech, from the outside, didn’t look like a team sport. However, speech gave me a greater sense of teamwork than softball ever did.
Walking into the last tournament of the season, I had everything to gain and nothing to lose. NIETOC was the midwestern nationals and I had earned enough bids to attend. I truthfully thought I’d get demolished…this wasn’t the Harvard National Tournament…you had to be in final rounds to get to NIETOC. When I saw my name on the octofinals list, I was shocked beyond belief.
Every single final round at NIETOC, I spoke every single word like it was the last time. Every time I saw my name pop up on the next final round board I was in shock. How in the world could I, of all people, be going this far at a national tournament? It was because I spoke every single word like it was the last time.
Since speech, I’ve trained myself to speak with purpose in my daily life. Every single word matters. Every word has a purpose. Instead of a ten minute time limit, however, I have my finite lifetime.
Novice turned 11th place at a national tournament? Yeah, that’s pretty cool. But you know what’s even cooler? Fragile girl turned confident woman.
I owe speech team for helping me find my voice, my worth and my place in this world. Even when the whole world seems to be breaking around me, my words are something that I will never, ever lose. If you’re looking for a home to express yourself or are just debating on whether to join speech, especially if you go to Eagan, join. It’ll not only help your writing, communicating and leadership skills, it’ll help you become more…well…you.
A love letter to speech : I wish I could’ve joined sooner, but I wasn’t meant to. I was meant to only know you for long enough to love you and not dread you. You were something new but something that had always been within me. The awards in the end aren’t what you gave me. You gave me new friends. You gave me self worth. You gave me a chance to speak at graduation. You gave me the truest form of myself.
With Love, Marin