“What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
I remember my first ever debate tournament like the back of my hand. I was in seventh grade. I had just turned 13. I stood at the apex of the classroom that morning, grasping a legal pad in one hand, desperation in the other. My mom had tied my ruby red JCPenney tie into a Half Windsor knot that morning to accompany the black suit I used to circulate the middle school bar/bat-mitzvah circuit. The legislation still lingers in my head: A Bill to Aid Haiti. My first ever, 2-minute Congress speech was like riding a bike. Made out of spikes. On fire.
Not one judge ranked Senator Jacobson that day. For the week that followed, I was devastated.
“I don’t even know why I decided to take debate in the first place!” I exclaimed, my breath still smelling of Matcha Powder from the Frappucino my coach bought me in order to cheer me up.
Contrary to most debaters, my debate career started by force. I went to a charter school until eighth grade, and in an attempt to expose their students to the world around them, I was mandated to take either public speaking or speech and debate. Yet, six years later, even as the public speaking requirement has gone away, debate remains attached to my hip.
I don’t remember what influenced me to choose speech and debate.
Six years of tournaments has flown over my head. I am writing this article at 11:49 PM on a Wednesday night. I write this article with the “Swedish” setting on full blast on my living room massage chair. I still can’t believe my parents had enough disposable income at one point to buy a massage chair. But I digress.
I sparked into high school debate having been slightly experienced in Speech and Congress. As soon as my first high school Congress tournament was complete, I immediately knew my primary event for the rest of my debate career.
“I am never doing a round of interp again!”
I write this four years later contemplating the delivery of one of my most powerful lines in my senior DI. It wasn’t until sophomore year I realized that my passion was not Congress, but for Interp, which is still my main event today.
As senior year comes and goes, I’ve realized that my speech and debate experience is not characterized by how many trophies I win, how many times I break, or how many NSDA points I have. It will be defined by the platform it has given me to have my voice heard. My top priority will be the spirit of this activity, how we as students, are impactful through our voices.
It’s a sheer coincidence that my DI this year is about a 100-year-old man reflecting on his life and the legacy that he has on the people around him. This man, named Scaramouche Jones, puts on his final performance as a circus clown, and goes through his entire life as nothing significant, until he realizes that his gratitude and actions never affect himself. They affect everyone else around him.
My favorite line: “50 years to build the clown, 50 years to play him. But I make people laugh. And I… I feel good.”
It was at Interprod, the nation’s leading interpretation camp, this summer that it finally hit me that senior year was approaching. It hit me that no longer would I say “maybe next year.“ It hit me that no longer would I say “I still have three years to compete.” My Snapchat Story would now be a picture of my reflection in the mirror of whatever room of whatever hotel I was staying in, a slight smirk on my face adorned with the words “Last Time at [insert tournament name here]” covering my face and a complementing geotag. It was in Boston that I was hit with the reality that my legacy was almost complete.
And I say almost because I am still a senior. I still have one final push. One last ride, per say.
During Interprod, I had one of the most memorable individual sessions with an amazing coach, Mr. C. Ryan Joyce of Phoenix Country Day School in Arizona. It was during this session that I was notified that C. Ryan and I’s senior years were related in terms of our piece selection. His Duo Interpretation senior year was also about a performer putting on his final performance. And in his piece, his character was asked what he wants out of his final act. The character responds with,
“I just want them to remember me.”
At the end of the day, as my six years of speech and debate wanes down, I think of anything I’d change in the three years prior to senior year. And not to sound cliche again, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Of course, we all do things on the circuit that probably weren’t the wisest of choices. I, for sure, have had a fair share of questionable actions. But, when push comes to shove, I’ve lived my legacy in speech and debate.
And I feel good.