A Father Brags on a Son


First, thanks for all who have prayed for my eyes; I’m mending well. Pain is gone; function isn’t back fully yet, and won’t be for a few days, but I can see well enough to get around and to resume nearly-normal schedule today.

Crazy Teenage Son has given us a lot of laughs for 19 years; he’s been a joy to parent. He’s not perfect, but he’s a great kid. Last year, as a junior, he got into homeschool speech competition, with the NCFCA. He did a couple of pieces, but wasn’t particularly competitive, not “breaking” into the semifinals in either tournament he entered (unlike Beautiful Daughter, just a 7th-grader, who broke in both). And so he entered this, his final year of competition, not having tasted much success.

Understand Crazy Teenage Son: he’s just really not a particularly competitive kid, which is foreign to his dad, who will compete against anybody, at any time, in anything. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: that’s my gig, but not so much Crazy Teenage Son’s. And consequently, he’s never really won much of anything, in part because he’s rarely competed.

This time out of the gate, he decided to put his focus on a duo piece with his partner, Joseph, a newcomer to speech (he’d competed in debate, but not speech). They selected a children’s piece called “No Such Thing”, a story about a little boy and the little monster under his bed, whose mommies say, “there’s no such thing as monsters (or boys, in the case of Monster Mommy).” It’s a cute piece with a cute ending, and they set to work on it. Their first tournament was in Florida back in February (not a bad place to be in February, eh?), and their duo team “broke”, which secured them an automatic invitation to the four-state Region 8 tournament, held this week. They didn’t get beyond the semis, though, and my sense is that they got into the semis by the skin of their teeth.

We next entered a “National Open” qualifier in Birmingham; kids from wherever could compete. Once again, they broke to the semis, and their scores were a bit better, and their comments a bit better, but same story. The following week, in late March, they competed in the Georgia qualifier, with the same results: a semifinal berth, and even better marks and remarks (improving against the competition each time, in other words), but no place in the finals.

Then came North Carolina, first week of April. In this tournament, they finally broke to finals, placing 5th in the tournament, again for the fourth tournament in a row improving against the competition, with better scores and remarks each time. Still, North Carolina’s tournament was the least well-attended of the four state tourneys (they sat out South Carolina), and so one could argue that they had more success because the field was an easier one. By the way, Beautiful Daughter broke to semis in NC, qualifying for this week’s Region 8 tourney.

All along, Karen, myself, and Joseph’s parents, mostly his mom, have been coaching and prodding and tweaking and re-writing the intros and fixing and messing with and improving the piece. But the real test came this week; the competition would be the best they’d faced; would their streak of improving against the competition each tournament prevail? There was a real question in my mind as to whether or not they’d break to semis against heightened competition.

We got the word Wednesday morning that they’d broken to semis (Beautiful Daughter will have to wait ’til next year), which wasn’t unexpected but as I said, surely wasn’t taken for granted. Now came the real test: would they break to finals? Breaking to finals carried with it an automatic berth to the NCFCA National Tournament to be held at Bob Jones U in Greenville in mid-June.

I got the call from Crazy Teenage Son yesterday morning while sitting in my darkened family room nursing my wounded eyes: he and Joseph had broken to finals, ensuring them a spot it the nationals. Now understand: it was Teri, Joseph’s mom, who was the believer in this; she was all concerned a couple months ago that the National schedule hadn’t been released; we didn’t know when it was going to be held, or where, and there were already things on our calendars, and what if the boys made Nationals and we had schedule conflicts? What would we do? And I’m thinking, “well, that’s a nice thing to worry about in theory, but these guys aren’t that good.” Now, with Crazy Teenage Son’s phone call yesterday morning, I realized for the first time: they are that good.

So then came the finals: six duo interpretation teams, the cream of the crop in Region 8, going head-to-head before a panel of judges, winner-take-all. And since Crazy Teenage Son and Joseph made finals, I had to find a way to get to the awards ceremony where they’d announce the winners. Karen made a special trip up (the tournament was in Fayetteville, an hour south) to pick me up so that I could be there to applaud the fifth-or-sixth place finish of my son and his partner in the finals. And so after announcing the winners in most of the other speech categories, they came to the duo interpretation winners. Six teams stood there awaiting the verdict of the three judges, a verdict that had been tabulated a couple hours earlier. The names of the sixth-place team was read–and it wasn’t the boys. Great! Then the name of the fifth-place winners were announced–and it wasn’t the boys. Karen had moved a row in front of me to get a better picture as the boys crossed the stage, and she shot a glance back at me that said, “hey, they got fourth!”

brent-and-joseph-champsBut they didn’t get fourth…or third. And then there were two: Crazy Teenage Son and his partner, and one other team. No way. It couldn’t be. Was there a chance? Could they have possibly won the thing? And the announcement of the second-place team was made–and it wasn’t them! And so it is with great personal satisfaction that I announce to my blog readers that the four-state, NCFCA Region 8 Duo Interpretation 2009 winners are the duo of Brent Harvey and Joseph Rondone!


  1. Flash McDirt on May 1, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Yes!! Way to go Brent!!!!

    [Free Bird!]

  2. sherry on May 2, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Go Bre-ent. Go Bre-ent. It’s your birthday..not really…..

    In the words of my darling daughter: SHAMAZING!!!!!!!!

  3. Laurie on May 3, 2009 at 12:18 am

    That’s so cool! Your story had me on the edge of my seat, I’m thrilled for you!

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