Storytelling Breakdown Blog Entry 012

Get Back To Where You Once Belonged – By Ben Clemmer.

My blog post this week will be a little short.

If you’ve spent time getting to know me, there’s a good chance you know about my history with speech team. I was an avid competitor all four years I was on the team at Bishop Dwenger in Fort Wayne. I competed in discussion and radio broadcasting. You can hear the influences of both of those categories whenever I am on a microphone. I met some of my best friends as a speech competitor. One of them, Storytelling Breakdown’s Stephen Stachofsky, remains a friend and collaborator since we reconnected in college.

After starting college at the University of Saint Francis, my sophomore year I came back and served as the assistant coach for Bishop Dwenger and helped to turn it into the strongest speech program in northeast Indiana. I enjoyed competing, but it was more amazing to see students I coached surpass even my high expectations. Chad Chenowith, also a great friend, was assistant coach when I competed. It was a joy to experience the success we did while coaching together and the program remains strong to this day.

I graduated college, planned to marry the woman who is now on the couch next to me as I’m typing this, and I stepped down from my position as assistant coach, knowing I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to the students that they deserved. While I still volunteer for the team, even virtually under current circumstances, I knew I wouldn’t be tapping into a big part of who I am and what I love to do. Speech competition and coaching young people to become more confident communicators and better listeners feels like it’s in my DNA at this point.

That’s why I’m thrilled to say that starting tomorrow I will be teaching a college level speech class. Parts of my brain that haven’t gotten used in a while will be firing on all cylinders again and I am so excited for it.

One could ask a couple of fair questions. What does teaching a speech class have to do with Storytelling Breakdown? Why did you choose to talk about this topic after the crazy events of this last week?

To the first question, there’s nothing quite as captivating as a good storyteller giving voice to their tale in person. Helping people to construct a story they can tell for themselves is something that has always given me great joy.

To the second question, I couldn’t ignore the events of last week and felt I should at least mention them here. We flipped our calendars, but obviously the challenges our world faced in 2020 will continue in 2021. Others have been more impacted than me by the ongoing overlapping crises. Any insulation I have from them comes from the privileges I have in my life. One of the best ways I can spend the currency of my privileges is investing in young people who can help build a better tomorrow.

Time to go back home.

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