The debate (and a giveaway!)

21 Apr

Just to let you know, there is a giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Our debate topic was selected to go first.  It felt like my heart was beating so hard, it might just come right out of my chest.  My armpits started sweating.  I tried to slow my breathing in order to control my nervous rapid heartbeat, but my efforts were futile.  Instead, I forced myself to listen intently to the other team so that I could offer valuable and punchy rebuttals whilst trying to ignore the extreme nervousness and anticipation I was feeling.

I had practiced my speech in front of a mirror about a thousand times.  I knew my information, but I still had all of it typed up with exactly what I wanted to say sitting on the table in front of my just in case I had a brain fart at an inopportune moment.

“My name is Sheri, and I know I am speaking last today, but as you can see, two members of our team didn’t show up, so I am not going to be filling the role of last speaker, but will be speaking as the second speaker because that was my original role.”

Debates are usually 3 on 3, but there weren’t enough people to make a 9th debate team, so our debate was 4 on 4. Unfortunately, two of the people on my team didn’t show up, and one person on the opposing team didn’t show up.  What the point of enrolling in a class, paying for the class, and then not turning up to the second day of a compulsory 2 day workshop is, I’m not sure, but whatever.

“The other team said that late abortions, even after 24 weeks should be allowed if the fetus is likely to be disabled.  Do you think that disabled people are somehow less human or that disabled people have less of a right to life than able bodied people?  I think Stephen Hawking would have a few things to say about that.”

I could hear the reactions of the crowd. I could see the pleased look on their faces, and the slightly shocked look on the opposing teams faces.  Sure, Stephen Hawking was born with a disability, but that is not the point, and the crowd knew it.  And I knew a line like that would get everyone’s attention and compel them to listen to the rest of what I had to say, rather then sit there fidgeting whilst their minds were somewhere else.

My nerves were making my legs physical shake underneath me, but my voice did not betray me.  I don’t think anyone noticed my shaking legs, and I  somehow delivered my speech better for the audience than I did to the mirror.  They listened to my every word and cheered for me when I was finished.

My debate. In case you're interested.

My debate. In case you’re interested.

“Ok, show of hands, who thinks the for team won?”  The teacher asked.  Only 2 or 3 hands went up.

“Who thinks the against team won?” About 13 hands went up (our class was divided into two groups for the debates so that we didn’t have to sit there for four hours, while everyone had a turn).  Some people didn’t vote.

We did it.  With two team members who didn’t turn up, we still won. Not that winning affects our scores, we are each scored individually based on our performance on the day, and then weighted according to how our team members scored our teamwork leading up to the event, but still, it was nice to win.

Everyone else had debated before, so I was the only debate virgin.  It’s a requirement in high school over here.  Lucky for me, I was a horse nerd growing up.  I was in horse 4-H from when I was 4 until I was 18.  To compete at the county fair horse shows, it was a requirement to complete 1 or 2 (can’t remember which) horse judgings, which were essentially mini shows with only 4 horses/riders in which the audience had to judge the class themselves.  The closer you got to what the real judged scored the class, the better you did.  It just so happened that I was very good at horse judging.  I was on the county judging team, and qualified to do horse judging at state level. I even won at State once.

At state level, and even some county events, we were required to give oral reasons, which involved standing about 2-3 feet in front of someone like Pat Pehling, who was the Head of the Snohomish County4-H Horse program (and a quick google check reveals that, OMGosh, I think she still is!!!), and delivering a memorised speech of why you placed the horses/riders in the order that you did, in a structured manner.  Pretty much like a one sided debate.

When I first started competing in horse judging, I completed workshops and participated in information nights so that I would have the best chance I could at doing it right.  The thing I remember most is being told that most people lose lots of points in their oral reasons because they don’t make eye contact with the person scoring them.  From that moment on, I resolved that I would not be one to lose marks just for not making eye contact.  I would stand there in front of Pat Pehling, gazing straight into her eyes for the whole 1-2 minutes no matter how awkward and uncomfortable it felt at the time.

And you know what? That is what I did. Every. Single. Time.  I forced myself to talk at a reasonable pace, not too fast or too slow or stumbling over my words, speaking in a clear, strong, confident voice, no matter how unconfident I felt, all whilst staring down the person judging my oral reasons.  And for that, I always got very good scores for oral reasons.

I used the eye contact and voice skills that I learned all those years ago in my debate, since I didn’t have any other experience to go on.

Who knew that years and years of being a horse nerd would translate to winning a university debate all this time later?  See, it pays to be a nerd 🙂


To celebrate the win, and that fact that horse 4-H helped us win, I am giving away a double pass to the  Cavalia show in Sydney on the 21st of May. The winner will be able to collect the tickets from the box office.

Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Human and Horse, an innovative multi-media and multi-disciplinary production created by Normand Latourelle, one of the co- founders of famed Cirque du Soleil, announces the addition of two more cities to its debut tour of Australia. Cavalia will open in Sydney on May 15, 2013, under its signature White Big Top, on The Showring at the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park.

I can't wait to see Cavalia! I get to go opening night with Aaron.

I can’t wait to see Cavalia! I get to go opening night with Aaron.

Enjoyed by some 3.5 million people across North American and Europe, Cavalia is a lavish production involving 50 magnificent horses and featuring 42 riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers and musicians from all over the world. A show unlike any other, Cavalia celebrates the relationship between humans and horses, virtually reinventing the equestrian arts.

In Cavalia, horses cavort with the many artists in front of a constantly changing digital background projected onto a 60 metre-wide screen, drawing spectators into dream-like virtual environments. Unlike traditional horse shows, Cavalia’s audience faces a single 50 metre-wide stage which allows the horses space to gallop at full speed, at times running completely free, unfettered by bridles or halters. Cavalia takes place under a white, big top, rising some 35 metres high that gives the horses an ample playground to perform with their trainers and artists. Cavalia’s gleaming White Big Top is the second-largest touring tent in the world – surpassed only by the one housing Cavalia’s sister production, Odysseo.

To enter, just comment below and I will draw a random winner via

-Competition open to anyone 16+ worldwide, but winners must be in Sydney on the 21st of May to collect their tickets and go to the show. ID is required at the box office to collect your tickets.

-Prize is non-transferable, non-changeable, non-refundable.

-Competition ends Saturday, 27 April 11:59pm.


Congratulations to Ann, who was commenter number 9 and won the double pass to Cavalia!
Screen shot 2013-04-28 at 6.05.51 AM

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9 Responses to “The debate (and a giveaway!)”

  1. www.MyTravelTastes.comD April 21, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    I’m proud of Daddy’s girl, aka self-proclaimed “horse nerd”
    Great argument.

  2. YaYa April 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Your brilliant argument with may just save a little life/lives. I’m very proud that you spoke up about the slaughter of the innocent.

  3. kate April 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    wow.. i’m going to be joining this! good luck everyone

  4. Mel April 26, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    So glad you were on the against team!

  5. Rachey April 27, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    We still need to chat. I want to recruit you for the knowledge and debating skills you have acquired during this experience. 😀

  6. Staylor April 27, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    My baby was 24 weeks on Tuesday. I can’t believe that people are so selfish that they think it would still be acceptable at this stage of pregnancy.

    In other news, I love horses.

  7. Missy Cooper April 27, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    Thanks for sticking up for those who don’t yet have a voice!

  8. Louise April 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Congrats on the win. I bet your glad you got the against side of the argument. I personally could not have an abortion I would always wonder about my child; what they would look like and their personality and interests. I think children are a blessing from God, not an accident.

  9. Ann April 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Loved the way you wrote this piece. You made me feel what you felt. Congrats on your win 🙂

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