Hello! It’s officially time for debate season to start up, and since I finished my novice year this past season, I thought I might as well pass long some knowledge for this year’s novices!!
1) Don’t be scared of your teams varsity members: listen, I was TERRIFIED of the varsity members on my team, but they’re there for the same reason you are, and honestly, they’re a great resource for if you’re confused, or need somebody to look over your cases/ballots/flows with you, we all want you to succeed, and we really are here to help!
2) You will probably have one (or many) rounds that go really, really badly- don’t freak: once novice season is over, you’ll probably have a couple of rounds that go really, really badly for you, and it’ll feel like the end of the world, understand that it’s okay to be disappointed in how you performed, but don’t let that ruin your tournament, or impact how good of a debater you can and will be. I one time had a round that was so bad I cried in the bathroom for 20 minutes afterwards, and actually ripped up the ballot, and you know what? I qualified for state 3 months later. It gets better, and we all have “those” rounds.
3) You will have your turning point in debate: I think that all debaters have a moment where it just “clicks” that moment where you suddenly realize that the 1AR is actually way to short, and CX questions start coming naturally, it might be at your second tournament, it might be at your 82 tournament, but you’re moment will come (and you can’t force it, sorry.)
4) There is literally no reason for you to yell in rounds: we’ve probably all raised our voice in a round before, but there’s a difference between raising your voice for emphasis, and sounding generally angry in rounds, please, please, don’t be that person who actually screams at your opponent, it’s unnecessary, and can sound really unprofessional. We all get passionate, but seriously: don’t fucking yell at your opponents.
5) Be nice to your opponents outside and inside of rounds: debate forces you to disagree with another person in a major and significant way, and there might be times where you want to be standoffish or rude to your opponent outside or inside of your round, but there’s honestly no reason to be hostile. You don’t have to be their bff, but converse, figure out what school they go to, shake their hand, be generally nice to others, you’re all there to have fun.
6) Never think another person is better than you based off of what school they go to: some schools are known for their really, really, really, good debaters, but don’t let a debater intimidate you based on their own prestige. Every school has good debaters and every school has bad debaters.Debate is essentially an equalizer we’re all on the same level, my guy.
7) Don’t depend on soda at tournaments: DRINK ALL THE WATER. ALL OF IT. It will not only help your voice, but hydration is good for your body point blank, plus, soda will give you quick boasts but can slow you down in the long run, and you want to be on your best game during rounds. I honestly try to drink at least one bottle of water between each round, it’ll do you good.
8) Get used to bathroom doors not locking: for some reason, every tournament I’ve ever been to has at least one bathroom stall that doesn’t lock. I don’t know why this is, but it is.Check stalls before you use them. Also check for toilet paper, trust me.
9) Grande Americano’s from Starbucks: tournaments start early (I don’t know when you guys start, but I get to my school’s bus at 6:30 am, meaning I wake up around 5:00 am) and I swear to Lincoln AND Douglas that Americano’s will save you every single morning. (But make sure you drink lots of water, or you’ll like, die)
10) Debate is meant to be FUN: yes, you’ll notice in the Fn6 tag that there’s a lot of debaters and coaches and judges who live, breath, eat, and sleep debate, but you don’t have to. Debate is something that you should be doing because you’re having fun and you’re enjoying it, you don’t have to let it consume your life (even though it does for many of us) have fun and enjoy yourself, that’s ten times more important than winning rounds.
Hope this is at least slightly helpful to somebody! Enjoy your season and Have fun!