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> The End
zzzptm
post May 3 2009, 12:44 AM
Post #1


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I remember, most of all, the end of competition. The team gathers its things and heads for the bus, plane, or van ride home. It's over.

It's over.

Those two words ring hollow in our minds. It can't possibly be over, not after all we've done and all we've studied. There's more to this, right?

No. It's over.

Impossible! So much effort, so much energy, so much time went into our Academic Decathlon competition... how can it possibly be over? How can there be any finality to this event?

Question as we might, the physical reality sets in around us. We are going home, away from the scene of the competition. We're done studying this year's curriculum. Things have come to an end. It could be a regional or state competition, but it's over. Someone else moved on to nationals. It's over for us.

We head home. We talk of things other than Academic Decathlon. We don't study any more packets. Some of us cry. We don't cry because we didn't make it. We cry because we're exhausted and the adrenaline needs a release. Crying seems right at the end, at a departure.

We get home and, suddenly, we're alone. Our team is gone. Our packets are idle. It's quiet. No, not quiet: silent.

I remember climbing the stairs to my bedroom after the Texas state competition in 1986. My team wasn't going to nationals that year. I looked out my window into the darkness. I had won a little money for my personal accomplishments at state, and a little more for my team's performance. That money would be gone after college, for sure, and then what would I have to show for all my work?

I looked out that window and wondered. I was alone and it was over.

Twenty years later, I felt that end of competition again. I was a coach this time, at the same school I'd competed at the first time I felt the end of competition. This was my third year coaching and my second year to get my team to the state competition. We had pushed hard to win it all, but fell short.

Once again, it was over. The silence settled in around me as I wondered why I kept feeling like it was over. Twenty years after my first competition, I hadn't really ended things. I had learned how to deliver a speech, interview, and enjoy learning in Academic Decathlon. Twenty years later, I had lived the answer to my question when I stared out into that Texas night in 1986. That part never ended. It seemed like it was over that night after state, but I kept speaking in public, I kept interviewing, and, most of all, I kept learning. I loved learning and I loved Academic Decathlon for teaching me how to love learning and all that went with it.

But as a coach, I found those answers insufficient. I wanted my team to go on to nationals. I wanted to go on to nationals, something I hadn't been able to do as a student. Nationals, the top competition, perhaps if I went there, it would never be over. Perhaps winning there would cure the quiet and the intense feeling of being alone when I got home.

Then Daniel Berdichevsky, head of DemiDec, emailed me to see if I could attend the national competition in San Antonio as a member of the DemiDec entourage. I jumped at the chance. I felt my loneliness subside. I felt a reason to keep studying, even though I wasn't really competing.

I went there, had a great, swirling time. I met new people, ate new things, and celebrated life with my counterparts from twenty years gone. And then -

It's over.

I felt that pang again. I hadn't competed, but there it was. Staring out of my hotel window into the Texas morning, I realized I was heading home again. There was no way to continue with this year's topics. They were over and done with and next year's were to be fully announced the next day. No matter how much I wanted to hold on to the last 48 hours, they were now gone, except as memories.

It really is over...

... isn't it?

As I looked out my window, watching darkness change into light, I thought of things again. I had made friends, both on my team and with others. That wasn't going to end. I still loved learning, and had met many, many others still on that journey of knowledge. It wasn't over.

My days as a competitor were gone, and my days as a coach would one day end, no matter what I had won or lost with my teams. My learning would never end, though. I had won that love, twenty years ago, and remained ever faithful. the events along the way came and went, but the journey toward knowledge never ceased.

When I realized that, I realized I had won. I had won all the prizes Academic Decathlon truly offers. The scholarships and promises of travel are only enticements to trick short-sighted children into partaking of an experience far more beautiful, far more awesome, far more sublime than they could comprehend in their limited experience. The competition is not about a few people winning this scholarship or that medal. The competition is about everyone, yes, everyone, gaining a desire to learn for the rest of their lives. It is about enriching our lives with deep and profound experiences. It is about following the path less taken, and realizing it has made all the difference in our lives.

I had won the same things everyone else had won, whether they made it to nationals, state, regionals, county, or district. Competitions end for all of us and we all return home to look out that window. But we all win the same things, if we but realize it.

If we win, it never has to be over. We can keep learning.

We can keep winning.

I will always remember, most of all, the end of competition. I now have a new way of remembering, one in which after all we've done and all we've studied, we realize there truly is more to this. There is joy in realizing the truth of the next four words:

It goes on forever.


--------------------
"The world could perish if people only worked on things that were easy to handle." -- Vladimir Savchenko
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Guest_JSK_*
post May 3 2009, 09:13 PM
Post #2





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This never ceases to speak to me deeply.
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Guest_Captaink_*
post May 3 2009, 09:48 PM
Post #3





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Lucky for me, I had this saved in an email from this time last year. Here it is again:
QUOTE
"First of all, I'd like to thank my team and everyone I met for making my last nationals (as a competitor, at least) my favorite. As much as USAD hates it, the Demivillage made for an excellent meet and greet spot. I lost track of how many teams I met in midst of that awful ambient music.

Since my mind is not being very coherent right now, I'm just going to list off the things I enjoyed...

- Meeting new people (EDC, Cynthia, Ari, patrick, the entire Pearland
team, sprigglet, OCM, sloup dog, and anyone else I forgot)
- Seeing old friends (DDD, Dean, AK_WDB, katerific, woodge, and possibly others)
- Staying up way too late
- Helping Dan foil the USAD board's evil plan to keep him out of the banquet
- Going on a cheesecake run
- Hearing stories
- Finding out that it really is a small world
- Running up 11 flights of stairs (multiple times)
- Blackouts
- Pretending to be a tree
- Sharing stories


And finally- Knowing that my experience with Acadec is not over. This morning, just by chance, I ran into three Texas Acadec directors I had met briefly during the competition. By the end of that conversation, I had given the state director my email and an offer to volunteer as a subjective judge next year.

When I was a sophomore, returning from my first national competition, I never thought that I would become so involved in acadec. Back then, it was a set of ten events that nine people competed in. Now I know it is much more than that. It's getting to know people who share one activity, but come from all manner of backgrounds. It's seeing people overcome their fears and give a speech. It's seeing people cast aside self doubt and take that math test, gosh darn it. It's seeing people throw away the letters on a transcript and show the world just how smart they really are.
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Guest_Jonesy_*
post May 3 2009, 10:04 PM
Post #4





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Every time I read these, I get more and more depressed for missing nationals, and now that nationals are going to be in Omaha, most of the people I am friends with, and those who I (would have) competed against, won't be there... :'(
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Guest_Phrenology_*
post May 4 2009, 05:48 AM
Post #5





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QUOTE (Jonesy @ May 3 2009, 05:04 PM) *
Every time I read these, I get more and more depressed for missing nationals, and now that nationals are going to be in Omaha, most of the people I am friends with, and those who I (would have) competed against, won't be there... :'(


I'll be there Jonesy haha. I'm going to UNO so I'll be here errday.
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Guest_Jonesy_*
post May 4 2009, 03:56 PM
Post #6





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QUOTE (Phrenology @ May 4 2009, 12:48 AM) *
QUOTE (Jonesy @ May 3 2009, 05:04 PM) *
Every time I read these, I get more and more depressed for missing nationals, and now that nationals are going to be in Omaha, most of the people I am friends with, and those who I (would have) competed against, won't be there... :'(


I'll be there Jonesy haha. I'm going to UNO so I'll be here errday.

That's one of the thoughts that is depressing me.... rolleyes.gif
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stanleytree
post May 4 2009, 07:33 PM
Post #7


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Joined: 25-March 18
Member No.: 12



QUOTE (Captaink @ May 3 2009, 09:48 PM) *
Lucky for me, I had this saved in an email from this time last year. Here it is again:
QUOTE
"First of all, I'd like to thank my team and everyone I met for making my last nationals (as a competitor, at least) my favorite. As much as USAD hates it, the Demivillage made for an excellent meet and greet spot. I lost track of how many teams I met in midst of that awful ambient music.

Since my mind is not being very coherent right now, I'm just going to list off the things I enjoyed...

- Meeting new people (EDC, Cynthia, Ari, patrick, the entire Pearland
team, sprigglet, OCM, sloup dog, and anyone else I forgot)
- Seeing old friends (DDD, Dean, AK_WDB, katerific, woodge, and possibly others)
- Staying up way too late
- Helping Dan foil the USAD board's evil plan to keep him out of the banquet
- Going on a cheesecake run
- Hearing stories
- Finding out that it really is a small world
- Running up 11 flights of stairs (multiple times)
- Blackouts
- Pretending to be a tree
- Sharing stories


And finally- Knowing that my experience with Acadec is not over. This morning, just by chance, I ran into three Texas Acadec directors I had met briefly during the competition. By the end of that conversation, I had given the state director my email and an offer to volunteer as a subjective judge next year.

When I was a sophomore, returning from my first national competition, I never thought that I would become so involved in acadec. Back then, it was a set of ten events that nine people competed in. Now I know it is much more than that. It's getting to know people who share one activity, but come from all manner of backgrounds. It's seeing people overcome their fears and give a speech. It's seeing people cast aside self doubt and take that math test, gosh darn it. It's seeing people throw away the letters on a transcript and show the world just how smart they really are.



I remember much of that as well. Meg Sunga! Moved from Pearland to Shawnee Mission South...crazy!
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Guest_Phrenology_*
post May 4 2009, 09:25 PM
Post #8





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QUOTE (Jonesy @ May 4 2009, 10:56 AM) *
QUOTE (Phrenology @ May 4 2009, 12:48 AM) *
QUOTE (Jonesy @ May 3 2009, 05:04 PM) *
Every time I read these, I get more and more depressed for missing nationals, and now that nationals are going to be in Omaha, most of the people I am friends with, and those who I (would have) competed against, won't be there... :'(


I'll be there Jonesy haha. I'm going to UNO so I'll be here errday.

That's one of the thoughts that is depressing me.... rolleyes.gif


And I know the reason why... rolleyes.gif
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Guest_Jonesy_*
post May 4 2009, 09:51 PM
Post #9





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QUOTE (Phrenology @ May 4 2009, 04:25 PM) *
QUOTE (Jonesy @ May 4 2009, 10:56 AM) *
QUOTE (Phrenology @ May 4 2009, 12:48 AM) *
QUOTE (Jonesy @ May 3 2009, 05:04 PM) *
Every time I read these, I get more and more depressed for missing nationals, and now that nationals are going to be in Omaha, most of the people I am friends with, and those who I (would have) competed against, won't be there... :'(


I'll be there Jonesy haha. I'm going to UNO so I'll be here errday.

That's one of the thoughts that is depressing me.... rolleyes.gif


And I know the reason why... rolleyes.gif

Because everyone from burke is short and annoying? (Except Dooling, I don't know him, but I know his brother and his brother is cool)


(N.B.: I kid, I kid.)
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zzzptm
post May 4 2009, 11:00 PM
Post #10


The Fisher King
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Joined: 25-March 18
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Just come on to Nationals, anyway. It's a great experience. You know you won't win, but on the flip side of that, you don't have to compete, either. There's a growing contingent of alumni that descend upon Nationals, so you'll have fun that way at the very least.


--------------------
"The world could perish if people only worked on things that were easy to handle." -- Vladimir Savchenko
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Guest_Jonesy_*
post May 4 2009, 11:36 PM
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QUOTE (zzzptm @ May 4 2009, 06:00 PM) *
Just come on to Nationals, anyway. It's a great experience. You know you won't win, but on the flip side of that, you don't have to compete, either. There's a growing contingent of alumni that descend upon Nationals, so you'll have fun that way at the very least.

I was planning on it, though I'm not sure what I would do with my time. I don't know how the competition is structured so I don't know how much time would be spent meeting people, and how much time would be spent waiting for people to take tests, etc.
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Guest_TheWerg_*
post May 4 2009, 11:50 PM
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Man, I never went to nationals when I competed (in CA or any non-LOLstate? Yeah, right.) but I would love to go check it out.
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Guest_gabrielcunha.7_*
post May 5 2009, 12:22 AM
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For someone that's been to nats both as a competitor and a spectator:
Is it better to compete or to relax and watch?
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stanleytree
post May 5 2009, 12:30 AM
Post #14


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QUOTE (gabrielcunha.7 @ May 5 2009, 12:22 AM) *
For someone that's been to nats both as a competitor and a spectator:
Is it better to compete or to relax and watch?


Oh my gawd, relaxing by a long shot. When I was competing, I was way too tense to enjoy anyone else's company that wasn't my team. Not competing, you can talk to whoever you want, and we all know that the best part of AD is the people; I got to meet some pillars of AD (Larry Jones) and met some awesome people. If you ever have a chance to go to nationals, I would highly recommend it (as a non-competitor...or both tongue.gif).
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zzzptm
post May 5 2009, 02:24 AM
Post #15


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Member No.: 1



HOW TO GO TO NATIONALS AND NOT COMPETE

1. Gotta get a ticket to the awards reception. Sometimes you can crash it, sometimes you can't. Best to get a ticket, so you have a seat at a table somewhere without begging for one. If you have a connection with a team, they may know if someone in their party wasn't able to make it and will let you have their ticket... dry.gif
2. Coordinate with folks on this board that will be going there. We can help find good deals... or have you split gas money...
3. Arrive on Thursday so you can meet up with DDD, Dean #1, ZZZ, and everyone else in the party. You will see some teams, but most will be trying to study.
4. Attend the SuperQuiz relay. Yeah, you know it! Afterwards, congratulate everyone. Talk with everyone, for they are free at last!
5. Later on, there will be a Speech Showcase. If you are not in the cheesecake-gathering posse, you will want to attend speech showcase. If you are in the posse, don't let DDD get into your eggrolls. Also make sure he holds on to his avocado smoothie.
6. Some time after the Speech Showcase, the DemiDec Porkless Cheesecake and Baked Goods Party commences in the lobby of the competition hotel. That is a must-attend.
7. Saturday is the awards ceremony. The best part is AFTER all the awards go out when you can congratulate everyone and talk with everyone. Some teams may have left, some leave soon after, some won't leave until much later. That last group of teams is who you want to latch on with to have a Saturday supper with. They won't buy your dinner, but at least you'll have fun people to chat with.
8. Go home Sunday. Again, coordinate here so we can actually help you get to the airport all right and on time and maybe save you some cabfare.


--------------------
"The world could perish if people only worked on things that were easy to handle." -- Vladimir Savchenko
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Guest_Widget!_*
post May 5 2009, 02:44 AM
Post #16





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QUOTE (zzzptm @ May 4 2009, 07:24 PM) *
HOW TO GO TO NATIONALS AND NOT COMPETE

1. Gotta get a ticket to the awards reception. Sometimes you can crash it, sometimes you can't. Best to get a ticket, so you have a seat at a table somewhere without begging for one. If you have a connection with a team, they may know if someone in their party wasn't able to make it and will let you have their ticket... dry.gif
2. Coordinate with folks on this board that will be going there. We can help find good deals... or have you split gas money...
3. Arrive on Thursday so you can meet up with DDD, Dean #1, ZZZ, and everyone else in the party. You will see some teams, but most will be trying to study.
4. Attend the SuperQuiz relay. Yeah, you know it! Afterwards, congratulate everyone. Talk with everyone, for they are free at last!
5. Later on, there will be a Speech Showcase. If you are not in the cheesecake-gathering posse, you will want to attend speech showcase. If you are in the posse, don't let DDD get into your eggrolls. Also make sure he holds on to his avocado smoothie.
6. Some time after the Speech Showcase, the DemiDec Porkless Cheesecake and Baked Goods Party commences in the lobby of the competition hotel. That is a must-attend.
7. Saturday is the awards ceremony. The best part is AFTER all the awards go out when you can congratulate everyone and talk with everyone. Some teams may have left, some leave soon after, some won't leave until much later. That last group of teams is who you want to latch on with to have a Saturday supper with. They won't buy your dinner, but at least you'll have fun people to chat with.
8. Go home Sunday. Again, coordinate here so we can actually help you get to the airport all right and on time and maybe save you some cabfare.



It is my official goal to attend nationals next year in Omaha. Who can I bum a ride with?
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Guest_gabrielcunha.7_*
post May 5 2009, 02:50 AM
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Is nationals coming to Texas anytime soon?
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Guest_Captaink_*
post May 5 2009, 02:58 AM
Post #18





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QUOTE (gabrielcunha.7 @ May 4 2009, 09:50 PM) *
Is nationals coming to Texas anytime soon?

Not for two years at least. Should it meander this direction, and assuming I'm still in the area, expect me to make an OCM-like appearance...
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Guest_gabrielcunha.7_*
post May 5 2009, 02:59 AM
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QUOTE (Captaink @ May 4 2009, 08:58 PM) *
QUOTE (gabrielcunha.7 @ May 4 2009, 09:50 PM) *
Is nationals coming to Texas anytime soon?

Not for two years at least. Should it meander this direction, and assuming I'm still in the area, expect me to make an OCM-like appearance...


What would that be like?
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Guest_Widget!_*
post May 5 2009, 03:06 AM
Post #20





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QUOTE (gabrielcunha.7 @ May 4 2009, 07:59 PM) *
QUOTE (Captaink @ May 4 2009, 08:58 PM) *
QUOTE (gabrielcunha.7 @ May 4 2009, 09:50 PM) *
Is nationals coming to Texas anytime soon?

Not for two years at least. Should it meander this direction, and assuming I'm still in the area, expect me to make an OCM-like appearance...


What would that be like?


Old. Critical. Drunk.
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