Monday, March 30, 2009

West Shore YMCA Swimming Alumni Speech


I had my first opportunity to put my new-found speech skills from the Life in the Spotlight workshop to work. Last night I gave the alumni speech at the West Shore YMCA annual swim team banquet. For anyone who does not know me well, competitive swimming was a HUGE part of my life from age 3 through 22. Mike Gobrecht gave me swim lessons when I was 3 and continued to be my coach at the Y for nearly 12 years after that. When he asked me to give the alumni speech I was very honored, and excited – despite being a tad terrified of public speaking.

At the banquet, I felt enveloped in this positive atmosphere abounding with team spirit. I could feel it when I walked in the doors of the “ballroom” at the West Shore Country Club. The feeling grew as I watched the team picture slideshow. While the senior swimmers gave their speeches, I started feeling emotional because all of these memories from my childhood started flooding back into me.

Then it was time for my speech – which I gave to 270+ people ranging from 6 to 60 years old. I began by talking about how swimming helped my writing career, by teaching me a positive work ethic and the power of persistence and determination. Then I showed everyone my “memory quilt” that I made (with much help from my mom) out of my old swimming t-shirts that I didn’t want to wear anymore, but they had too much sentimental value to throw away. Using the quilt I began talking about some of my best swimming memories.

And that’s when I started to cry. I felt it coming and my voice started to waver. I paused for a few seconds to collect myself. But as I continued on, each memory brought out this emotion in me that I was not expecting at all and I couldn’t stop crying. Anyone who knows me well will know how mortifying it is for me to cry in public, and there I was exposing myself in front of 270+ people! I was a little embarrassed. At the Life in the Spotlight workshop, we never learned what to do if we started crying! My skin got all splotchy and everything. I had practiced this speech about a half-dozen times and never felt close to tears. I think it was being in that atmosphere that brought it out in me. Also, my parents were in the crowd and that made it even emotional for me.

When the banquet finished, I had a text from my dad telling me it was a terrific speech and to please stop by to talk to them before I went home. My parents thought I did a great job, and coach Mike told me I did well, too, and those were the people to whom I was really speaking. So tears and all, I think it went ok.

8 comments:

GMG said...

Sometimes words can not even describe the feelings I get when I hear any of my WSY swimmers come back and speak. Once again Anne....AWESOME JOB!! I have your talk on video, but did not post it to our website without your permission.

Thanks again for a wonderful evening.......Mike

Anonymous said...

You were GREAT! Anyone who has been in that environment for that long knows how much hard work goes into it and how sweet the memories! Congratulations!

Anne Greenawalt said...

Thanks for the nice comments :-)
I really appreciate it!

It's ok by me if you'd like to post the video to the website.

Joyce said...

Anne that is SO awesome!!! It makes me cry just to read it. I have a feeling you connected with a whole lot of people and that your tears said a lot of things they felt!

Of course I do understand why you would feel embarrassed but still... this is huge! I think Peter Jacobi would be so proud of you. I sure am.

Nathan said...

Just so proud too!

Anne Greenawalt said...

Thank you so much, Joyce and Nathan! Much appreciated :-)

Irene Latham said...

Hi Anne -visiting from Joyce's blog. I so need the Jacobi course! Sounds like you learned a lot. And you know, I always appreciate a heartfelt speech. Always. Congrats on Growing Up Girl!

Anne Greenawalt said...

Hi Irene,

Thank you so much for your comments!

The Life in the Spotlight course with Peter Jacobi was amazing and I definitely learned a lot. It gave me a whole new, very refreshing, perspective on writing as a career. I would recommend it!