UIL spells success

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 14, 2015

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Next week, Bridgeport will send a team to compete in the state tournament.

No, this will not be on the hardwood and there will not be 500 fans gobbling up tickets within a couple of hours to see them compete.

Instead of flexing their muscles, the Bridgeport duo of Zane Brown and Joshua Martz will be matching wits with the state’s best in a classroom at the University Interscholastic League cross-examination championships at the University of Texas in Austin.

Though there won’t be the same fanfare next week as the Bridgeport Bulls basketball team’s first trip to the state meet today, the accomplishment is not any less impressive or meaningful.

Going to school at rural Callisburg, where our athletic teams struggled to be competitive at the district level most of the time, we built our reputation on UIL academics. It actually got to the point that during one lopsided loss on the football field a Callisburg player said, “Our smart kids will beat you in UIL.”

And we did. Actually, aside from a short time we were in a district with Lindsay, we beat everyone in UIL in just about every event – especially speech and debate.

I can’t say I was part of the debate success. I lost my three debates in Lincoln-Douglas my freshman year and moved on from it. I instead found a home competing in accounting and current events, making regional trips as a junior.

Then as a senior after helping with yearbook and doing some stringing for the local newspaper, I took up journalism. A regional title and trip to state later, I found a career.

I’m not alone in our newsroom finding a career after success in UIL events. Our editor, Kristen Tribe, won a state title in journalism in high school. And while she was already interested in the field, it was that success she claims pushed her to pursue it as a career.

Friends that I went to high school with took the skills they honed in UIL events to become professionals. I’ve also seen one of the state’s top debaters from Aubrey turn into one of the nation’s top debate coaches.

While the avenues that are opened up from UIL academics are undeniable, many schools don’t participate or dedicate only limited resources to them.

Yes, there are some costs from traveling to tournaments and added stipends for teachers serving as sponsors. But giving students another area outside the classroom to become more proficient writers, speakers and high-level thinkers is worth the costs.

Those skills will take most farther than jump shots.

Richard Greene is the Sport Editor at the Messenger.

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