My first realistic job plan was when I was 17 and it was to become a professional poker player. Then my brother intervened and told me to go to college and do debate.
Then I was going to be a math teacher and high school debate coach, but the math proved too hard and cutting cards too fun. I did some fact finding if you could be a full time debate coach and avoid homelessness. It turns out the answer was yes, so we were in.
I would give my personal debate results a C+. That really masks how bad I was and how little I knew. I graduated and worked at Liberty. My clearest first memory of coaching was when I went to cut a file for the first time and it just did not fire.
“oh I do this for other people and not myself anymore?”
“oh I don’t get to use this?”
“I don’t get to have judges vote for me anymore”
“yo, this shit is kind of tedious”
“we have to cut cards about WHAT?”
For a little while there I landed on I will just find the articles and have my minions cut them. Easy. Going into that GSU our tub was pretty shitty, but we kind of knew what an SMR was so were doing better than others, but worse than most.
After GSU that year the light switch went on. All I wanted to do was crush opponents. I did want cards about everything. If someone broke an argument I didn’t predict, it made me mad. If someone broke an argument I wrote before we did, it made me mad. If someone found an article I had not seen before, it made me mad and I wondered how the hell did this person find this card.
I was high on spiteful motivation, but that didn’t necessarily translate into improving at my craft to the same degree. I cut so many bad cards for so long, I am thankful I have lost access to most of them so I cannot open the documents and cringe at the dogshit formatting and the inept argument I was making.
I had a choice to make after my first year coaching.
Option 1 - go to Georgetown, be a contractor, don’t make a lot of money, live in a shoebox with 4 other dudes but join a juggernaut of a team.
Option 2 – go to Kentucky, join a team after their first year of a reboot, better pay/cost of living situation.
2013-2019: We built a team. People’s hard work drove each other to get better. People improved their craft. Classes of debaters passed down lessons learned, traditions and tips in debauchery. I made my best friends who I talk to everyday. We banded together to do tasks none of us really wanted to do. We culminated it in winning a national championship.
This has been like a judge who starts the post round with saying a bunch of shit without how they voted. My punchline: I am resigning from the University of Kentucky.
I have been in a haze the last three seasons. Me as a coach has not been the same the last 3 topics compared to the 7 that came before it. It is one of two things. Either I am washed and I cannot do this activity the way I want to do it OR my external circumstances are preventing me from doing it.
My job at UK has transformed the last 3 seasons into a host of external circumstances. I won’t bore you with the laundry list.
No job is free of tasks you would rather not do, but they wear you down after a while. At bottom, the issue is I do not like myself when I am associated with mediocrity. I have been a mediocre debate coach the last three seasons. I have done some other stuff, like tournament hosting, pretty well in that time. But that isn’t going to last. Too many different kinds of tasks, too many hats, too much complexity, too much stuff that isn’t what I want to do means those things are going to be mediocre too.
So my solution was to remove myself from the situation.
I couldn’t make Kentucky an everlasting debate dynasty. I couldn’t make the TOC what it should be (a full time job tbh). I didn’t help start any new college debate programs. I didn’t help fix what ails college debate.
I don’t have a satisfying list of reasons why that is the case, but the proof is in the pudding. I wish all the troopers in full time college debate the best of luck. I am not quitting the activity for good, I will be around. Hopefully, being less immersed in the totality of a college debate team will help me both find roles I can excel at and enjoy and be more helpful in targeted ways than I have been.
I am Lincoln, retired debate coach . This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.