All through high school I participated on the speech and debate team. It was in my sophomore year that Hillary and I decided to be team debate partners.

A couple of the more experienced team members helped us get ready and created the debate case for us to defend at competitions. Without their help, we never would have even tried. Even with it, we quickly learned we were not naturals at it!

For our first competition, Hillary and I got dressed in our suits, lugged all our gear, and started off. It was pretty ugly. We weren’t really clear on what we were supposed to do, and we winged it as best we could.

Hillary and Tammy at a Competition
I couldn’t find a picture of us at that first debate competition, but this is one from the next year. Digging my sweater dress!

At one point during cross examination between main speeches, I heard Hillary say something that I realized would have meant we lost the round. I started my next speech with “What my partner meant to say was …” – which has become a running joke between us throughout the years.

We pretty much felt like we had been through a train wreck by the end of the day, but we were both still excited by it. We were hoping against hope that we had won at least one round out of our four that day. That was our definition of success.

During the awards ceremony that night, places were announced in category after category. We were chatting to each other when we heard our names called for 6th place! We were more shocked than anyone else!

We couldn’t wait to receive our ballots afterwards to find out how the win was possible. It turned out we won the one round we had hoped for and one where we were sure we’d been massacred. In that latter win, the judge pointed out that we had won a vital position and moving forward we would need to point out these things to the judges when they happened. What a kind and generous judge!

We were never able to duplicate our trophying efforts in debate (or even batting .500!), but once was enough for us to remember for a lifetime.

Have you ever had an unexpected win? or What catch phrases have you created over the years that have stuck?

4 thoughts on “Debating”

  1. That made me laugh out loud, not once, but several times. Ha, ha, “What my partner meant to say was . . .!” What great memories and I do remember and love the sweater dress!


    1. Hi Hillary! Thanks for joining the discussion. I’m so glad you liked it! Isn’t it weird to see ourselves looking so young?!?!?!? Thank goodness I’m in shadow because it almost looks like I have a mullet in that picture. I thought I’d burned all proof of that!


  2. This is funny to me. I can imagine how it would have gone when you had to say “What my partner meant to say…” That’s not usually a good sign. But at least you had good humor about it. That brings me back to school and some of the things my friends and I would say to each other. For some reason, I can’t remember any sort of catch phrase. Maybe we didn’t have any or else I just need a little coffee to get my brain going again.


    1. We were so clueless. It’s really funny looking back. At the time we wanted to be better – our minds just didn’t move the way they needed to to be successful at it. Maybe if we’d practiced more … but why second guess a time we look at so positively!


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