Forensics, I Love You

Forensics, I Love You

All the reasons this sport for actors is the best high school extracurricular.
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Let me clarify (as I’ve had to about fourteen hundred times): the forensics I’m talking about is competitive speech and debate, and it is not related to science at all.

Here’s a quick(ish) explanation:

Each state has its own version of Forensics, but the basic formula is the same. Kids decide which individual event they want to compete in. There are two categories of events: public address (PA) and interpretation (interp). In PA, students give speeches that are informative and factual in events like sales and extemporaneous speaking. In interp, students perform condensed versions of scripts or books as characters in events like dramatic interpretation and storytelling. At tournaments, everyone competes against the other students in their event in preliminary rounds in front of judges, and the top scorers go on to semi final and final rounds. There's the potential for students to go on to regional competitions, state competitions, and even the national competition.

Here’s why forensics totally rocks:

It builds confidence.

No matter how well you do in tournament rankings, forensics teaches you how to speak in front of people. It gives you valuable experience in public speaking, which is an important skill to have. It teaches you how to own a room, how to command attention, how to act confident even if you feel like you’re about to pee yourself. It helps you realize your own authority. You have a voice that deserves to be heard, and participating in forensics helps you grasp that.

It teaches independence.

In forensics, there’s the potential for a student to write their own speech or cut their own script, make their own choices about delivery and blocking and set their own goals for how well they want to do at a tournament. In an individual event, when you walk into a round at a tournament there’s no one else you can lean on. You have to perform, and you have to learn to trust yourself.

It also teaches teamwork.

There are also events in forensics that aren’t individual events. Students can perform a duo, which requires two people performing a script together, or a multiple, which requires three to eight students performing a slightly longer script together. These events require students to work closely together and trust each other, especially because there are strange guidelines for them, like the fact that partners of a duo and members of a multiple cannot touch or make eye contact during their performance.

Even if you compete in an individual event, there are elements of teamwork in forensics. If you have a good team, everyone is very supportive of each other and likes to build each other up. Plus, if the whole team does well, you can win awards as a group at the end of tournaments. This creates a very positive environment in which everyone on the team is cheering everyone else on.

It’s really fun.

Even though forensics can be stressful and difficult — maybe an understatement, since many people on my high school team (including me) experienced mental breakdowns at some point during our forensics careers — it’s totally worth it. I remember the joys of small successes (like getting that first 1-100), the joys of bigger successes (making it to a final round), the fun of watching my teammates crush their competition, the heart-stopping moment when you wait in a silence the feels like eternity to find out who got first place in your event, the (mostly) friendly competition between rival schools. I remember the loud and song-filled bus rides home from far-away tournaments and the feeling that we’d all accomplished something together. At the very least, we’d all stood up and said something important to us or told a story we knew had to be told. It made the headaches so, so worth it.

Forensics is so many great things, and I’ll be forever grateful that I was a part of it. I miss it (even though there were times that I swore I wouldn’t), and I’d compete again in a heartbeat. Anyone can do forensics, and I wish everyone could give it a try.

Judge and timer, are you ready?

Cover Image Credit: facebook

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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