Oh...she was terrible! Her voice was too low and garbled, she did not look up, she was slouched in the chair and her knees were visibly shaking. I can not believe her goal in life was to be a TV anchor woman. Of course, she was only 18 and this was only a Forensic competition. But, it was a District competition and the score I gave her determined if she would make it to the finals.
I had put off doing my duty, as the parent of a speech team member, by being the judge for at least one Speech/Forensics competition. By procrastinating and waiting until the end of the year and judging the districts, little did I know that what I saw...what I heard and the score I gave them could effect the rest of their lives.
As each student came in to be judged, I explained that, to me, they all deserved to get a (1)! (The perfect score) By the mere fact they were there, impressed the socks off of me. I can not imagine getting up in front of my peers, or complete strangers for that matter, and commanding the room. I did explain that 3 of them would have to get the 6, the 5, and the 4, but that it wasn't personal. I was frantic with my decisions. I did not want to crush one student's spirit. It was the end of the year, so only the best of the best were here. That had to mean something to them.
I joked with them and tried to make them comfortable. I'm sure I looked a little goofy because I was so UNcomfortable. Some of these young adults were brilliant. I heard them in the halls talking about which colleges they were attending and what law schools and medical schools they planned to attend. Oh yes...I felt very intimidated at times. But, they were all polite...every last one of them.
As I pondered the TV anchor lady's performance, I wondered how my words might influence the rest of the day's judging for her. I was only the first round that she would encounter. I thought carefully and ranked her 4th. I wondered if she'd ever been ranked higher than 6th? I carefully wrote:
"You have everything it takes to be on TV except confidence in your self. Try looking the next judge in the eye and pretend she is the camera and there is no one else in the room. Straighten your shoulders, lift your head and smile. Show them proudly what kind of spirit you have, girlfriend! Best of luck...I believe in you!"
I sighed and went on the next competition, which, HEAVEN HELP ME, was pantomime! That's probably the only thing worse than TV anchoring...well, besides poetry! I forgot about the girl~slash~young lady and tried to find my daughter to see how she thought she was doing.
Well, my daughter won first place in HUMOR SOLO. We laughed and clapped and teared up and started for the car.
I heard a voice screaming "JUDGE, JUDGE....STOP!" I turned around and there was the young lady whose aspirations were beyond my comprehension. "Oh, thank you! I won 3rd place in the finals! I'm going to STATE and it's all because of you!" I stood there stunned and unable to say anything. "You are the only judge that ever ranked me higher than a 6. You believed in me and now I'm believing in me! Thank you so much, I'll never forget you!" Off she ran to join her friends.
So, I was taught a very valuable lesson about myself. When given a choice...ALWAYS take the high road. It takes very little thought to drag someone down...but, it's worth the added time to give them a few seconds of feeling good about themselves.
I don't even remember her name. Hopefully, I will recognize her on the TV some years from now. I know one thing....she sure made my millennium.