Sunday, July 6, 2014

When the Tables Turn

If you're lucky, you spend at least the first 20-some years of your life being told by your parents how proud they are of you. In fact, according to most generalizing sources, if you're in my generation, you hear nothing BUT how proud people are of you (whether it's warranted or not). It's a parent's job to be there for their kids games/shows/concerts/recitals. It's the parent's role to bring the camera, snap the photos, show their friends and relatives, and sit on the sidelines beaming. While I'm not yet a parent, I think it's fair to say that parenting is a humbling experience; one where you (the parent) take a back seat to your child as they learn, grow, and excel. That being said, it's a strange (but wonderful) feeling when those tables turn, and, as a child, you have the opportunity to be the proud one as your mother or father steals the show.

Last week, my dad was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame for his 40 years of service and success coaching speech and debate in the St. Louis area. Full disclosure, I'm totally biased, but my opinion aside, this is a huge honor. Each year. the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) inducts a class of athletes, coaches/directors, officials, and administrators into its Hall of Fame, the most prestigious recognition for this group. Now more than 420 in number, past inductees include the likes of Jackie Robinson, Arnold Palmer, Larry Byrd, and Jack Nicklaus...oh yes, and now Randy Pierce!

If you follow me on Instagram (@ckissee) or Facebook, you already know that I hopped on a plane to Boston to a) surprise my well-deserving dad and b) be present for this momentous occasion. And momentous it was! This two-day celebration included a press-conference, a ring ceremony where inductees received their new bling, an Oscar-worthy awards ceremony (during which my dad accepted the honor on behalf of his class of inductees in an incredible speech delivered flawlessly to a crowd of more than 1,000), and a post-ceremony autograph session! But beyond the glitz and glam, the sheer magnitude of this honor has still left me in a little bit of shock.

I know my dad is awesome - he's my dad, what daughter wouldn't say so? But to hear an emcee, in front of a crowd of 1,000+ introduce, "one of the nation's greatest speech and debate coaches of all time," and then to see my daddy walk up on stage was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling. While this induction is about the culmination of my dad's many accomplishments and career achievements, what it highlights even more are the little things. This award is testimony to the hours of time spent with students in the classroom, on the road to tournaments, in practice rooms, tabulating results, sitting on committees and boards, debating debate topics, manually calculating students' points, and more. This award represents each of the lives touched by my dad as a teacher, coach, mentor, and encourager. The thousands of students who are no longer deathly afraid of public speaking because of my dad's patience, knowledge, and willingness to push them to grow just a little bit. The award is so much more than a two-day event in a tuxedo.

I feel so blessed that I was able to attend last week's events in Boston. Not only for the obvious reasons, but because it allowed me to take a step back and really appreciate the hard work and dedication my dad put into his career. Attending gave me the unique perspective of a daughter who for the last 27 years has been cheered on by her daddy who now took a turn doing the cheering. This daughter of two incredible speech and debate coaches is literally speechless. I'm so proud of you daddy, well done. xo

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