October 1, 2006

Speech Teams: Novice Tournament 2006

Saturday was, in short, a blast. It was the first tournament of the season, as usual, and we had all the usual fun with new speech kids (not knowing how the process works, getting lost, losing their judges) and new speech judges, since Matt encourages more senior members of teams to come and sit "on the other side of the ballot" so they know what it feels like to give feedback (losing their competitors, getting lost, forgetting to finish filling out their ballots...). That's all par, and part of the learning process the tournament is designed to foster. We also met at least one brand new coach who seems to be a nice guy and pretty gung-ho for the activity--a good combination!

The title of this is Speech TeamS because I realized, in thinking it over last night, that I'm really part of two teams now. One I just joined when I signed my contract--though I've been doing cameo appearances for/with them for quite a while, even when actually employed by another school! They showed some wonderful promise yesterday; the returning kids were well-organized, took care of themselves and the novices well, and even managed a card and a big (involving all the competitors!) round of Happy Birthday for Matt. The novices had quite a good showing, indicating both a fair amount of natural talent and a willingness to work hard at improving, as well as generally good humor. You really can't ask for more than that from a team!

The second team is one that I've never left, though I've been on the bench for a while. That's the group we sort of think of as our second family: the coaches we work with. It felt just plain wonderful to be working with them again, not just as a drop-in who might have to abscond with the children, but as an actual coach who was supposed to be helping run the tournament. Of course, I did take some child breaks here and there--more on that in a sec.--but mostly, I was able to actually function as part of our team again. Here's a vignette that illustrates why we love that team so much: a visitor to the tab room (who knows quite a bit about speech), mentioned to me that he really liked how calmly the day had gone; he said even out in the halls, with the new kids, things seemed just....serene. I smiled and pointed at Jane (who, honestly, does more work than the rest of us--she never stops unless there is NOTHING that could possibly be done at that moment!) He smiled a little bit and told Jane the same thing; she pointed at Matt and said, "He makes it easy for us." The visitor started laughing and said, "You know, I told Mike the same thing, and he pointed at Matt. I told Matt the same thing, and he pointed at you guys. I told Ginger that, and she pointed at you. And now you're pointing back at Matt!" We decided that it must be because, really, we are all a team. Perhaps that's the definition: when there is success [or even failure], it's a group effort. Anyway, it feels good to be playing with them again.

What made this possible were some wonderful returning students who agreed to play with/watch the girls in tab with us. They did a truly awesome job, and the girls were (except for trying to get out of taking much needed naps, in Emily's case) as good as gold. Anyone who can play "Ring Around the Rosy" that many times with a two-year old deserves a medal, no matter how cute the child might be. Also, one of the students (I'm continuing my policy of not identifying minors unless I'm really really really sure it's o.k. with their parents; of secondary concern is safety and liability--important as those are--and of primary concern is the fact that I think all of us should have more control over our own information than we do; far be it from me to add to the endless data stream without permission. I believe in "opt in," not "opt out!" Anyway. They know who they are.) Laura's second words this morning (after, "Mama, where's Daddy?" "Upstairs, making breakfast.") were, "We're going to a speech tournament!" So I think she liked it. (In the interests of science, her third sentence was, "Jonah was hoping for muffins," which hopefully he'll get one of these days. ;-) )

Lastly, my main questions about how this whole job situation would work out have been answered this week. Practice: going to go fine; the girls look forward to the people and the toys and "seeing where Daddy works." Tournaments: working out pretty darn well, too. Whew!

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