Be a Judge? Are you Serious?

Last night, two of our boys and myself, participated in the NCFCA Tournament (National Christian Forensics and Communications Associations) which is being held in Joliet at The University of St. Francis, from March 5th through 8th, 2012.

When I received the email that hundreds of homeschooling high school students, from six states, would be traveling to participate in this four day tournament, and that they were looking for about 800 judges, my first reaction was “No, we are not doing that!”  It doesn’t interest me at all, and if it didn’t interest me, then I didn’t think our kids would be interested either (I know what you’re thinking, so please continue to read on).

But for some reason, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  So I talked to some of our older boys and my husband to see if they would like to be a judge at this tournament, and the reaction wasn’t overly positive.

After talking about if for a while, we decided to do it.  So we signed up, not knowing what we were getting ourselves into; no experience necessary (they said).  Dakota, Barrett, and I were going to Joliet.

Once we arrived at the University on Tuesday, it was a whirlwind……….find the entrance to the tournament, find someone to help us, met a friend that said to start here (she left to do other things), sign in, get a badge, pick up our pamphlets, pick a category………………Impromptu………………..where did Barrett disappear to?, check names (can’t judge anyone we know), take personal orientation, Dakota and I (we missed the group one), fill out these papers…………………..find the library, locate our rooms, didn’t get to say goodbye to Dakota………………………sit down (already late, but I’m only the second out of four needed to begin – 3 judges and 1 timer), study the rules (oh boy), learn the evaluation sheet (wow!), fill out the worksheet (ok?), don’t talk……………………. wait for the other two, ok, they’re in the room and ready to go, watch the impromptu, judge and rank the eight students in my group (whew!!, these kids are good), done, gather my belonging……………………………..find Dakota (we were both judging Impromptu), go back to Tower Hill North………………… look for Barrett (can’t find him), finish filling out our papers, eat (food was great!)………………………………….hurry to get ready for the next round (Team Policy Debate), oh “Hi” Barrett, “How did it go?” (he chose Humorous Interpretation)……………….. no time to talk – our next orientation is about to begin, oops, we missed it, had to finish filling out our papers (we are going to get a personal orientation again), our trainer was sitting at our table giving me the eyes (let’s hurry, please!?!)………………………..lots to write, ok, done……………………went to the table to turn in my papers, Dakota was already in the process, I had to cut in line to get to the next round, thought the lady at the table could finish my tallies, but she couldn’t, I had to circle, initial, sign, and double check ranking (this is serious)……………………………….I told the lady she had to hurry I was going to get in trouble, she said, “It’s ok, don’t worry, they will wait” (oh, but she’s not in my shoes, we were already behind schedule by about 25 minutes)………………….. back to my table, run through orientation with our trainer, Dakota, another gentleman, and I……………………….. quick trip to the bathroom (our debate was to take between 2 – 2 1/2 hours), go the auditorium and wait for directions, and wait…………….and wait………….. and wait some more…………………….hurry up and wait for about 1 hour and 1/2……………………………….roll call……………………………we were going to be escorted to “The Abby” (was Maria going to be there?  I asked)………………….. judged the debate round………………………………..arrive at home just past 12:30pm.

Would we do it again?, you bet we would!!  We now have experience (remember, we didn’t need any).

These are the future leaders of our country and they are doing an incredible work.  If you ever have the chance to attend or judge a tournament such as this, I would strongly recommend that you take advantage of it.  It was hard for us to step out of our comfort zone and sign up for the unknown, but we have enriched our lives because of it.  And we did our best, under the circumstances, to encourage these young people to continue to strive for being the best that they can be.

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