When I decided to leave coaching high school speech and debate to go to law school, one of my students gave me a good luck charm.
David had been one of my debaters since his freshman year. He loved debate. Cross-examination debate where you’re teamed with a partner and you argue the same topic for a whole year. You go to camp the summer before and you cut cards – that means you do a lot of research and compile a filing system of information so you can put your hands on any piece of evidence to refute any possible argument the other side might bring up at a moment’s notice.
At that time, before the advent of laptop computers, all that information you accumulated went into Rubbermaid tubs and you wheeled those tubs around on dollies at tournaments nearly every weekend.
The rounds of competition lasted around an hour and a half and you were exhausted when you finished. Just from listening because the teams talked so fast.
I still think it’s one of the most beneficial activities any kid can participate in to develop critical thinking skills.
And powerful lungs.
One year David was partnered with Katie, a senior who had already established herself as a force to be reckoned with on the speech and debate circuit. David was younger, and well, there for a while he was just plain scrawny. He was wirey, though, and could hold his own with anyone.
The team nicknamed them “Butch and Scrappy.”
It didn’t take long for teams in our region to learn that they were the team to beat.
At the beginning of the year Katie’s grandfather gave each of them a two dollar bill for good luck and David carried it in his wallet until he graduated.
And then he gave it to me.
It was lucky all right. I got through law school.
Tomorrow David’s marrying a woman he’s crazy about and I’m just sick that I’m not there in Philadelphia to celebrate with him.
But it’s just as well. I’d probably make a mess of the salad dressing at dinner.
And I’m keeping the two dollar bill.