A year ago, I wrote a post entitled “What It Means to Debate.” Looking back on what I had written, I still agree largely with what I had written. But alas, we are never stationary and that means that my opinion has changed, shifted, and accumulated much more knowledge and experience since when I last touched on the subject on policy debate as an activity.

8. The Novices.

They are the future of your debate team, the kids that will be seniors when you’re juniors in college, whose life courses you have the ability to influence depending whether you convince them with your charisma and behavior to stick with debate.

When you think about it, debate is what you make it and part of what you make it is demonstrated to others that join as weak freshmen and look to the seniors to see what they might look like one day.

These are little freshmen that timidly walk into the debate room and step over tangles of wires and computer chargers, making their way over to the coach to ask about joining. They might come in because their parents encouraged them to join (like me) or because they had some genuine interest that drew them to the extracurricular or because they know/are siblings of older students that are involved. Whatever the motivation, its significance goes as far as they take it. It’s less about why you start, and more about why you choose to continue.

So when you’re interacting with the younger kids on your team, remember to approach them as timidly as they approached you and regard them with positive kindness. These are the kids that you are going to watch transform before your very eyes.

7. I’m excited to learn.

You know when you get that overwhelming desire to open your math textbook and immerse yourself in all of the theorems and equations? Yeah, me neither.

But I get that high all of the time with debate. I truly and genuinely stop my homework and pull on a pair of headphones and go at my debate work for solid hours, all of the time. People have taught me to never ignore that drive and let it carry you, because why disregard a drive to learn? Why put off a chance to better yourself? It’s not like the pile of English reading and Spanish annotation is waiting for you seductively, with a rose in its mouth.

No, there’s a reason why you’re constantly drawn to the debate files on your computer, and that’s because the activity promotes this unprecedented mindset to work, work, work, because that’s big on winning debates and progressing.

There’s a reason why I’m much more willing to read up on climate change or asteroid collisions than I am to open a textbook and study who knows what, and that’s because the drive to work at debate is not backed up by grades, but rather, the incentive to improve at something you have engrained yourself in. And at the end of the day, isn’t that all that matters? Trophies are shiny and certificates are nice to look at, but isn’t it exhilarating to go to sleep a better person than you were the day before? It’s about progress that you can touch and feel, acquired day by day.

Read the rest here.