Assistant Debate Coach

I risked my life last weekend driving our High School Debate team to the Gonzaga University tournament in Spokane — I had never seen so many accidents on the Snoqualmie Pass. We made it in one piece, only to go 6-6 at the event. I was pretty disappointed, especially after all the driving and snow — did I mention it never stopped snowing while we were there? …8 inches on the ground by the time we left…I felt my anti-lock brakes for the first time in the 6 years I’ve owned the car, twice!

IMHO there were only 2 teams (Auburn & Mead) that are consistently better than ours at the tournament, so not even making it to Octa-finals is disappointing. The life of assistant coach is sort of rough in this sense. I’m not in class every day with them, and I’m not really the coach on “game day” either. Fact is, debate is a much more self-reliant sport because each team goes to their round while the coaches only rarely see their teams work, because the coaches are off in another round judging other coaches’ teams. It is now common place to divulge your decision at the end of a round and give oral critique, hopefully to help the kids learn how to get better right then, in a dialogue, rather than in whatever terse sentences you can squeeze onto a ballot in 5 minutes in between rounds (ballots that the kids won’t even seen for another week after the tournament). I think this system is good, but unfortunately it means I do most of my “coaching” on kids other than Vashon’s. And of course, every once in a while you run into sore losers that don’t want to be coached at all, like I did with the kid from Kuna who called me a “stupid bitch” when I gave him a loss — that earned him 0 speaker points.

I really like debate, and I really like our kids, but I hate all the weekends away for tournaments, and I think I feel sort of funny that my volunteering has less impact on our kids than others… I dunno.

I did run into an old teammate from my own high school debating days. Andre Cossette is now coaching our old team. It was really wonderful to catch up with him and find out about all our old pals….

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