The last 10 years I've coached teams at the big debate nationals.
Today is the first day of the tournament.... about now, in Colorado, alarms are going off in debaters' hotel rooms. They're stumbling into the shower and trying to get it together.
Everyone is battling some degree of the nerves... Freshmen are worried that they won't win any rounds or that they won't make elimination rounds. Seniors are hoping this year will be 'the year'. Coaches are hoping the tournament doesn't go tragically wrong, as those who have been at it as long as I was have seen this one go really, really badly.
One of the best things about coaching was taking a freshman team to nationals. Last year, despite significant personality conflicts, I was really proud of Swear Jar and Sunshine --- they were eligible for elims until the last prelim round -- where they got beat by D2 and the Dynamo. I was even more proud of Sunshine, D2 and the Dynamo that they could be friends afterward -- and had they not missed the closing time of nature at Pike's Peak, I would never have met the park rangers....
The first set of postings will go up in a couple of hours -- the first round will be announced, cases will be prepped and a whole flock of debaters and judges will scramble to find their rooms. They'll do 5 rounds today, 3 more preliminary rounds tomorrow and a couple of elimination rounds... by Sunday 200+ teams will be down to 32.
I've had several teams in the top 32 -- and higher (hubby was eliminated from the top 4 without debating his junior year... the other team was in finals) -- and getting there requires more than a little luck. Many, many, many excellent teams will be knocked out of the tournament tomorrow night... and more than a few of them could replace those in the top 32 with no change in the level of debate.
If I could give some advise to everyone at the tournament -- do what you can to relax and have fun. It is a special thing to go to nationals --- something you'll never forget. Take a minute to absorb it, to really experience it -- you are coaching/debating for a national title -- that is pretty awesome, even if you don't win it.
Today -- I'm going to the gym this morning, I'll do some errands and come home to work this afternoon. Tonight I'm going for drinks and some food with a bunch of other philosophers....
This weekend I'll be doing dissertation work, a bit of laundry and some other stuff.