After graduating in December, it seemed my competitive debating days were behind me, but earlier this week I received an invitation to compete in the Hawaii Cup leading up to the Pan Pacific Debate Championship at Shidler Business College this weekend. Justin Bongco, a fantastic debater from the Debate and Forensics Society at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (and one of two others that tied with me for top speaker at last semester's Warrior Intramural), was my partner for the competition today.
The last time I debated was the Warrior Intramural in November of last year, and Justin and I both agreed that winning the first of the two preliminary rounds would be a success for our patchwork team. The weather was overcast as we entered the conference rooms at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach. When the dust settled, we emerged victorious from both preliminary rounds, and going into the final, we had nothing to lose. We'd already accomplished our modest goal, and we tried valiantly but lost to the team from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Debating without pressure or preparation and hanging out with Justin between rounds reminded me that debate need not be a hypercompetitive pursuit. Sometimes, it can be a fun contest interrupted by chances to kick back on a pool chair and shoot the breeze. I'm not sure if I'm getting old or soft or both, but I'm viewing competitive debate more as an opportunity to interact with other articulate, intelligent people and less as a clobber fest. I'm grateful for the skills I've gained in my "career" as a debater, and I look forward to integrating those skills into my educational practice.
After my last "retirement," I won't call this my last hurrah, but if it was, it was a nice way to go out.