Joining the school speech team was a huge step for me and not exactly my idea. I was 12 years old and being a member of this group meant staying long after the dismissal bell. Not only would I have to sacrifice a chunk of girlfriend time but also I would have to stand up in front of people and act. My mom insisted that I should follow my older brother, Jimmy, who was a phenom at this sort of thing. She said that this type of extracurricular activity could be my ticket to a scholarship. I did consider Jimmy to be the funniest person in our family and one of the most popular kids in the seventh grade. I was easily persuaded and did what my mom asked me.
Our school's speech coach also doubled as my sixth grade English teacher. Sr. Michaela was a strict and decisive nun. She didn't carry a big wooden stick but a firm metal pointer. Anytime she needed to bring the class to order, Sister would draw this pointer and tap loudly on her desk. It didn't take long at all for the students to hush up and listen up. She ran the speech team in the exact manner. It was all business and no funny stuff. .
My first speech was a dramatic reading by Leona Hulse-Black. Sr. Michaela selected this serious speech to match my personality. It caught me off guard. I was convinced she had me confused with one of the other leaguers. I gave her a few minutes to realize I should be the one slated for the humorous reading. She didn't budge and I didn't argue. It wasn't so much the content of the story that bothered me but the fact that it required me to cry. I had to memorize two and one-half pages of sappy, weepy text. .
In this speech, I play an eight-year-old girl being raised by her grandparents. It wasn't a very remarkable or pleasant childhood but she did have this precious dog, Punkin. Her dog dies; the girl is distraught; and grandparents buy her a new dog. .
The speech meet was fast approaching and our team was feeling the pressure.