Monday, March 10, 2014

Just Breathe

"Just breathe!" In the first week of district conventions, I have said this more times than I can count on 10 fingers. It's quite ironic since last year I would have been the one pacing in the hallway about to pass out. 

In the past two week, districts 5, 7, 4, 9, and 11 have all ran successful contests. Contestants, advisors, and district officers alike might be thinking "Pff easy for you to say!" But no need to plead the fifth here! I speak the truth. Answer these questions: Did a couple contests run long or off schedule? Did your judges leave comments on your score sheets? Did you and/or those in attendance enjoy their time catching up with old friends or make new ones? Were you exhausted by the end of the night? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you were a vital part of a successful contest!

Why? Well if you were at a convention where a contest ran over, be thankful for thorough judges. Be thankful that, even if a contestant was late or some other circumstance caused the contest to get off schedule, all entered contests got the opportunity to present the material they had worked so hard to prepare. 

If your scorecard looks like a judges ink pen exploded all over it, be thankful for the advice because trial and error is how we grow! The fact that you competed puts you leaps and bounds ahead of the person who stayed at home, no matter where you placed. 

FFA: Food, Friends, and Agriculture. We all know it's true. If you had the opportunity to mix and mingle with those attendance, you were at a successful contest!

If you were more than ready to go to bed after convention was over, then you did something right. Maybe it's because you stayed up all night finishing your project like Aaron and Caleb from McCutcheon. Maybe you spent the whole day walking back and forth down a 1/4 mile hallway to make sure all the rooms were ready like Kelly from Riverton Park. No matter what your convention prep story is, if you gave it your all physically and mentally, you were a piece of a successful contest. 

What determines a successful contest is not who walks away with plaques. It is what happened leading up to that first gavel tap and what happened before the last one.

I've been there. I know district convention causes advisors to wrinkle, parents to gray, and students to pull their hair out. But, even so, take advice from one with experience, one who has had total freak out moments, one who read the same Farm World articles multiple times to glean as much information as possible from them, one who turned every quiz bowl question in a Powerpoint slide so her team could practice: Just breathe. Remember, your brain needs oxygen to function. 

Do not let convention make you look like this...


Look like this!

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