Not that long ago, Celeste Stewart and her brother, Grant, joined Stoa and made it to NITOC 2018 in Team Policy Debate. Now both are preparing for college but have returned to Steven Vaughan's LOGOS Colorado club to assist coaching the next generation.
Recently, they shared the benefits of Stoa.
When did you get involved with Stoa?
Grant: We started later than others usually do. My sister and I had a pretty quiet childhood, but didn't interact a lot with other kids…since we were homeschooled.
Celeste: We discovered Stoa via the CHEC (Christian Home Educators of Colorado) website in summer 2016. My mom had wanted to get us involved in some kind of co-op after being so absorbed in schoolwork.
Celeste: I originally joined hesitantly due to the emotional turmoil and immense personal pressure I felt at the thought of public speaking. I decided to try it anyway despite my mind telling me, "No!" I quickly found my niche and preference for doing Team Policy Debate with my brother. As my coach said in the beginning, I caught the "debate bug”.
Grant: I was nervous getting into it. I had avoided getting involved in any homeschool co-op due to shyness, but this was the opportunity (at least I thought at the time) of becoming someone like Ben Shapiro, so any misgivings I had quickly washed away at that wonderful thought.
Celeste: I very clearly remember her telling me that through God I was capable of doing well in anything, and that stuck in my mind during my decision making. I felt a high amount of spiritual opposition and anxiety telling me to not even go to the beginning LOGOS camp and stay comfortable where I was—without any kind of speaking development. I was the kind of person to panic at the thought of public speaking.
Celeste: Through prayer, I came to find that there was nothing I would lose if I tried out public speaking, and I forced myself to go ahead with it because I knew the benefits of debate would outweigh whatever hurdles I had to overcome. I wanted to do it for God because I sensed He wanted me to; I can conclude with certainty that what kept me going was knowing God was by my side. He was my main motivation.
How has your experience in Stoa helped you?
Grant: The benefits of STOA have been immense for me after competing and now being an assistant coach for LOGOS. It wasn't until the second year that the spiritual side of it, why we're doing it and Who we're doing it for, ultimately became far more clear to me.
Celeste: Switching to a mentor position from a learning position in a short amount of time helped me to remember what it was like to be a competitor and the pressures and challenges most people go through during the entire learning process. Having that sense of community and camaraderie is still a constant.
In the future?
Grant: The way I anticipate it will help me is to be able to ground myself in God and his Word in all times of blessings and hard times. It is through Christ I was able to push through a lot of nerves, tensions, and insecurities during speech and debate. That won't change as I grow older, start a career, eventually a family, etc. So, if anything, speech and debate helped solidify these convictions and God's work in me.
Celeste: The experience I gained in Stoa will be and has been invaluable to me not only in the way that I communicate with people but also in the way that I'll be able to interact and speak in the workforce and all other settings. Learning how to understand what other people are saying and being a good communicator are skills I'm grateful I was able to develop and continue to refine.
Hear more outstanding examples of how Stoa has benefited others by checking out our video clips.