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Speech is, um, y'know, important-like

So I am writing this column while preparing for the Minnesota State Speech Tournament. You may not know this, but in addition to being the second cutest Budgeteer columnist (after Larry Weber) I am also the assistant speech coach for Hermantown High School. Last week, five of our speakers qualified for this year's Big Dance.

(Oops. Actually, that's the nickname for the NCAA college basketball tournament, so I'll have to come up with something else. Go ahead and continue reading while I think on it ...)

Our students were profiled in the April 10 Budgeteer and even though I owe reporter Teri Cadeau a Gordy's hamburger basket, I feel the bribe was worth it. Now you know all about Cally Stanich, Rashika Shetty, Luke Willis, Daylen Moore and Kaylee Matuszak as they get ready for the Big Talk.

(Hmmm, that's no good, either. Sounds like that euphemism your parents use to tell you about the birds, the bees and other silly things unrelated to the main topic while their faces turn red and they avert your gaze for the next 12 years ... )

You may recognize the name of one of those state-bound speakers: Kaylee Matuszak. That's my daughter and, much to her chagrin, she has been discussed in this column before. But this time, I get to mention her in an even more awe-inspiring context, as the Section 7AA champion in drama. She has a long list of accomplishments racked up in her senior year of high school, but this particular one makes me smile wider than all three local TV news anchors combined.

Speech is an amazing extracurricular activity and Kaylee has been part of it for six years now. Every year she's grown as a speaker, a performer and as a person. That's what speech does for you. It doesn't fill up an auditorium with cheering fans, but it's just as important as sports for a high schooler.

In speech, students learn to trust themselves and establish not only an independent, creative voice, but also the confidence to know how to use it. When they stride to the front of a room, there's nobody else to rely on. It's all on them. The objective in speech is to "own the room" and Kaylee not only owns it, she charges rent.

Her goal is to earn a state medal. She qualified for the tournament as a sophomore but became a little overwhelmed by all the polished, professional speakers. This year, however, she's one of them and ready to speak the speech trippingly on the tongue. Whatever happens, her mom and I are extremely proud of her and will boast about her up and down I-35 as we make our way to and from that tournament dubbed The Big Squawk!

No, that's terrible. Um ... The Big Speechy Thing? The Talky Tourney?

*sigh*

Good thing someone in this family has a way with words.

Brian Matuszak is the founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and invites you to follow him and his theater company on Twitter at twitter.com/rchickentheater, like them on Facebook at Rubber Chicken Theater, and visit their website at www.RubberChickenTheater.com. Congratulations to all the Northland speakers who made it to the state tournament. You all rock! And talk!

Brian Matuszak

Brian Matuszak is the founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and invites you to follow him and his theater company on Twitter at twitter.com/rchickentheater, like them on Facebook at Rubber Chicken Theater and visit their website at RubberChickenTheater.com.

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