I love the idea of having a craft, being super good at your one thing, and I love working with people who have also found their one craft. Well Natalie has MASTERED her craft, in fact she is the best in the NATION at her craft this year. So here’s the story, I got a txt from my old debate coach in high school about needing some photos and when he told me who the subject was going to be, I nearly lost it. I still follow the success of my old debate team closely and it has been a while since we had a champion, even though our team regularly produces individuals and teams that are national level caliber. Natalie, however, is a once in a generation debater and now holds the national title in Lincoln Douglas debate. I was an individual competitor in high school so I am very familiar with what Natalie did to get where she is, but for those of you who didn’t debate in high school I can fill ya in. She has spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours, preparing for that moment. She hasn’t had a free weekend in years, she doesn’t go to parties all the time, and she has to spend most of her time in tailored formal wear and panty hose. She regularly faces opponents who try and bully her and belittle her intelligence and she spends time away from her family practically all year. She has written thousands of words and eaten crappy food all weekend. She has taught and attended numerous debate camps and worked with hundreds of other competitors that would love to beat people like her all to come out on top in one competition, her last competition.
Working with her reminded me yet again why I do what I do, I get to meet amazing people. We stopped shooting around my normal time (8:00 ish for this time of year) but we didn’t leave the parking lot until 9:00. We stood and talked for an hour in a dark parking lot about debate and our high school, where she was going to college, what she wanted to do with her life, politics, ALL OF IT. Of course I could go on for hours about how amazing her photos are, how cute her smile is, or the faces she makes when she’s telling me about her finals rounds, but that is not what sticks out to me. What sticks out is her compassion, her intelligence, her drive and competitive nature, her sharp whit and humor, and her willingness to stand up for those around her. I made her promise to never lose my number and to always check back with me, even when she has moved on to conquer the world.
It was an honor my friend, congratulations on your title and good luck as you travel to Canada for your next adventure.