A year ago I held my first speech team meeting.
The room was packed with somber-looking kids and a few worried-looking parents. It took a lot of courage, manufactured enthusiasm, and a bit of love 'n' logic to get through that meeting. The kids were upset about their beloved teacher leaving them, mad at the decision to get rid of overnight meets, angry about things being different than before, and very uncertain about this new teacher who was the face of all this bad stuff.
There were tears, yelling, cries for rallying on Facebook, and a grumblings about me being the wrong choice for the job. It led to weeks of answering emails, reading the anger in the local paper, constantly reassuring parents and students and administrators, all while trying to get the season off and running.
But that was a year ago.
Today was the first speech team meeting of the new season. The crowd was a little smaller, but the kids were ecstatic to be together again and moved when I asked them to sit in a circle with smiles and a sense of routine. We ran through the agenda, laughed, and argued over the hoodie design in a speech-y way. I signed a bunch of bus passes and dismissed them amid cheers for a great season ahead. Then I was swamped by kids who wanted to show me potential pieces, ask questions, and, mostly, tell me about their summers and get some validation through repeating shared jokes from last year.
I'm calling it a win.