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Author Topic: Chuck Ballingall  (Read 2112 times)
SherryHall
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« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2017, 08:45:53 PM »

Donna Hernandez O'Mahony‎


The loss to the Damien Family and this entire nation's Debate Community really can't be measured. Thank you Chuck and bless you for your important influence in shaping my son and countless others into confident men who will make a real difference. Debate parents, the whole of Damien and so many other young men and women you lifted up throughout your lifetime will be forever grateful to you. Rest well Mr B
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SherryHall
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« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2017, 08:46:27 PM »

Andy Conway‎


Coach Ballingall meant a lot to so many. I know today he is remembered fondly across the country and especially at home at Damien.

Rest in peace, Chuck. I will never forget you.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #32 on: August 15, 2017, 08:46:52 PM »

Matthew Sheasby‎

Mr. Ballingall was a gift to thousands of young men. His guidance and care and commitment was integral in making me the man I am today. I am deeply saddened by his loss, and deeply saddened that my son, a new freshman, and many young men will not be given the gift of knowing him. Mr. Ballingall, thank you for all you have done for us. You will forever be remembered in the reverberations of the lives that you have touched.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2017, 08:47:10 PM »

Allan Louden‎


There are not that many who truly change the coaching profession. Chuck was one who did, profoundly. Good people, good work, a life worth living. Rest well.
in June Chuck visited Winston-Salem on his east coast trip. Honored he stopped by to see his debater David Munoz, and we too caught up. Such fun. with Chuck Ballingall.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2017, 08:47:39 PM »

Tony Vena‎


You were life giving. The countless time I got to spend with you over 4 years of high school - from debate trip after debate trip to the debate camp at Georgetown in the summer of 1989 - was inspiring and transformative. But most of all I will remember your support and affirmation - always building your students up. And a great sense of humor. Our last conversation was 2 months ago strolling down memory lane after you had just got done leading my son's Kairos in May. You are missed.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2017, 08:48:16 PM »

Greg Varley

Chuck loved debate, sports, Damien, family and friends. And, he loved history. Joy and I were visiting Mystic, Connecticut with our parents (just after NFL Nationals), and amazingly ran into Chuck visiting Mystic with his. He was surrounded by family, friends, a debate connection, and history. His smile was infectious...it is a memory that I will always cherish.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2017, 08:49:04 PM »

Jim Gaynor‎

You were the reason I tried this class called speech and debate. My freshman year at dhs was your first year. I have learned a great deal since 1982 but a heck of a lot of it was because you told me I should try this debate thing. Life came full circle you were my teacher and coach, my advocate, my boss, my colleague. Yet through it all and even back in 1982, you were my friend. "Lunch on me" was my last text to you. It's still going to happen but it just won't be the same to sit there without you. God speed bud and love from me and the rest of the Gaynor 6.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2017, 08:49:36 PM »

John P Frantz‎


Chuck was an amazing coach, teacher, mentor, and friend. No person outside of my family had a greater influence on the course of my life, and I can say without question that I would not be who I am today without his inspiration, guidance, and friendship.

On my first Kairos, when I was a junior and about as lost as I have been, he wrote me this amazing letter that I still keep. On my second, when I was a senior, he wrote that Tony Vena and I were "an extension of him" and that he was "proud that people know that I'm your coach."

We are all an extension of him indeed, and I was proud to be part of his team. What an amazing legacy to have touched so many so deeply over his career at Damien, which was both long and at the same time way too short.

We love you coach. You will be deeply missed.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2017, 08:50:49 PM »

Renee Manes‎


Chuck is gone? Chuck is gone. How can I express how I feel? I am probably one of the friends on here who has known Chuck the longest -- having met him in 1975 when I entered Fountain Valley High School as a freshman. He was a sophmore, and clearly one of the best debate prospects out of our high school. He was partnered with a Senior, Phillip Oxhorn, but when Phil left after graduation, they looked around for a partner for Chuck, and found ... me! I was his partner when he was a junior/senior, and I was a sophomore/junior. I was vaguely articulate, moderately presentable, and they thought I was semi-intelligent. And mainly trainable. They (Mr. C and Chuck) thought I was trainable. And I guess I was. I was really "learnable" -- I was much brighter than they recognized, and I understood the opportunity I was being offered, so I took it. I remember our first major final -- Loyola? Redlands? that I can't remember. Anyway, we were debating Sklansky (David, now a law professor at Stanford [you want to be a criminal law professor, be in the trenches for 25 years and then talk to me about criminal law]) and Tweed. Sklansky got to cross-examine me, and I remember Chuck and Mr. C telling me that he was far brighter than me, and would definitely try to trip me up, and I needed to make sure I understood what he was asking before I answered. So David asked his first question, I repeated it, David said yes, and I answered. David asked his second question, I repeated it, David said yes, and I answered. David's third question was "Are you going to repeat everything I ask?" My response was: "Am I going to repeat everything you ask? Hmmm.
Yes, David, I think there is a very high probability that I will do so." The audience roared. David was not amused, but Chuck was happy with me. I don't think we beat Sklansky & Tweed that time, we did beat them at the Orange County state qualifying tournament -- we won 9 of 9 ballots in the round robin and qualified first for the state tournament from Orange County. I say we, but it was Chuck, dragging me with him.

Chuck has stated to me (and on here) that he was a lousy debate partner. He was judgmental, perhaps he did not provide me with any overt support and respect, and he could be cruel. But I recognized the heart that was in him, and I knew he would go on to be a great teacher. And I know that he taught me so much. Mainly he taught me that I was capable, and that I should never be afraid. And I haven't been afraid. I was not afraid at Northwestern University, I was not afraid at Harvard Law School, and I have not been afraid in 25 years of being an Assistant Federal Public Defender, most of which time was spent representing capitally sentenced clients in their federal habeas corpus proceedings. I am not afraid before any United States District Court judge, and I am not afraid before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. I am not afraid because I know what Chuck taught me -- I am vaguely articulate, moderately presentable, and semi-intelligent.

I was lucky to reconnect with Chuck, both in person and on Facebook, and follow his life, 42 years now after our time together. I will miss you Chuck. And I will always be your first student.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #39 on: August 15, 2017, 08:51:17 PM »

Brian Smith‎


Rest In Peace, Chuck. You were an amazing teacher and debate coach, and you did so much for Damien over the years. You will truly be missed.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #40 on: August 15, 2017, 08:51:41 PM »

Ruben Mark Serrato‎

Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for who you were and for what you did. It is not possible for me to imagine my life without the program you dedicated your life to building. A mentor of grand intellect and even greater class and decency. I was honored to call you a friend. You dedicated yourself to helping create generations of capable and thoughtful young people. Across the country your loss is broadly and deeply felt and your impact will endure as long as we do. Thank you, Mr. B.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #41 on: August 15, 2017, 08:53:14 PM »

Chris Nolan‎


The debate team kept high school fun for me, Mr. B. So many memories and friends I still know thanks to your hard work. Damien won't be the same without you.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #42 on: August 15, 2017, 08:54:09 PM »

Ron Kincaid

Ah dammit Chuck. Here's to that first time you posted about being the stadium announcer for the (hated) Dodgers. As an old-timer like yourself, you know I loved the Reds-Dodgers rivalry from the days when pitchin' was pitchin' when Tommy John was throwing, not a surgery, and Hal King was hitting a game tying grand salami for my Reds. You were a class act in a debate round and a class act as a human being. At least, the next game in heaven, the fans will take their seats and hear, "And on the mound, number 53, Don Dry---sdale!" Godspeed.
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SherryHall
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« Reply #43 on: August 15, 2017, 08:56:34 PM »

J Lane Bearden‎


Oh no! What a loss! Chuck was a friend and competitor when he was at Fountain Valley HS, and we were teammates at U of R. He was one of the first ones to welcome me back to the activity after my hiatus of 20+ years. What a great career coach - how many thousands of students did he help over the years?
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SherryHall
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« Reply #44 on: August 15, 2017, 08:59:21 PM »

Dan Shalmon
August 10 at 3:21am

Sad to hear we lost Chuck Ballingall today. This was a surprise, not a shock, but it feels like having a rug pulled out from under my life nonetheless. He taught me lessons that became increasingly important as I grew up, became a coach, a cancer patient, survivor and father.
He stood out in a community full of loud, aggressive personalities by speaking quietly. Chuck was a steady, stubborn, competent presence who could end a raucous argument with a softly-voiced opinion backed by the big stick of a formidable mind. He quieted loud mouths because he was a thoughtful listener with good ideas he would not deign to scream.
I can't count the number of times I saw him react to an awe-inspiring tirade--my coach was notorious for them--with a pause, a smile, a disarming quip, and a viable solution. It was like watching a great jiu-jitsu fighter. In one fluid gesture, he could deflect, redirect and resolve a threat. As I have mellowed in my old age, I try to fight more like Chuck and less like (old) me.
I think that this might be why the Glenbrook North Debate family was so close with Chuck and Damien Debate. Our directors were like two sides of the sort of coin they should flip to determine sides in a Debate Olympics--forceful and brash on the one side, quietly, stubbornly determined on the other but hardworking and brilliant throughout.
For a variety of reasons, our social time at tournaments was restricted--but exceptions were made for Chuck and Damien. Dozens--if not hundreds--of GBN students were routed into his summer programs for decades. Chuck was family.
He was a quiet, kind and supportive presence in my life for more than 20 years. We met when I was 14; well before I was 'somebody' in debate. He was friendly, helpful and supportive on general principle. He was so accessible and personable to novice me that I took a good long time to realize that Chuck was a great* debate coach with a very crowded dance card--in addition to his own team, he ran huge tournaments (for zero $), summer debate institutes, and coached sports teams.

Some lessons learned c/o the man we lovingly called 'Chuckles'--largely through thoughtless imitation rather than deliberate practice:

(1) Kindness is free, and appreciated by all non-sociopaths--and even total bastards can learn the benefits of reciprocity. Friendships have to start somewhere, and that place is always one defined by mutual understanding and kindness. Kindness should not be conditioned on shared ideology or social status. My wife and I are very different people from very dissimilar debate backgrounds who met Chuck at different times--and we both found him to be kind and supportive.
Everyone needs mentors and friends as they make their way in the world, so when you have an opportunity to provide a helping hand, do so. Sometimes the kindness of mentorship is reciprocated over time and these benefits advance our selfish individual interests. But that doesn't always happen, and that doesn't matter--we should help on principle as members of a community. It's a thing good people do.

(2) When volume, aggression or intensity won't get you the attention or influence you seek, play a long, quiet game.
Be patient.
Listen. Understand your audience.
Be competent. Prove your voice and judgment indispensable.
If, after unmistakably establishing your bona fides, you don't get the ears you deserve, you know you're dealing with the wrong people. Jerks. If you can't prove yourself, be humble and gain skills--then, try again.

(3) Sometimes caring for others is easier than self-care.
We live in a world where narcissism and naked self-interest are ubiquitous. So many of us--especially those with power and resources--could stand to think long and hard about Others. But for some of us, it's easier to work with others, to serve a community or an organization than it is to care for ourselves.
By 'self care,' I do not mean 'self-indulgence.' I mean 'work on the self.' Chuck--and I--would probably consider any kind of education enjoyable self-improvement (indulgence). Exercise, on the other hand, not so much.
Chuck faced difficult decisions about his lifestyle and habits and could not bring himself to make costly changes. We all face such choices, and we struggle with them to varying degrees of success. Ever since I began chemotherapy, I've had to think carefully about the risks and benefits in my diet, lifestyle, activities, career, etc., and I think of watching Chuck as an object lesson in humility and coping.
A) Humility: Chuck was a brilliant man. He could not think his way through his health problems, and that is not a failure of the intellect. It is a psychological, emotional, and social war, and there is no shame in losing battles from time to time--even the very best and smartest strategists do so.
B) Coping: minds live in bodies, and when bodies change or weaken, minds must adapt.
[Anecdote commences]

Chuck was a great* administrator of complex tournaments and events. Not good, great.
I, on the other hand, approach such events as a force of destruction--quintessential incompetence lying in wait to wreak maximal havoc. When I worked with Chuck at my first Glenbrooks tournament, I was given the minimally-demanding assignment of stapling together the pages of little booklets that would go into the folders teams received upon confirming their registration.
Rather than stapling the folded pages together at the 'spine'--turning 'paper' into 'booklets,' I stapled them shut. In my defense, I was just told to "staple these," which I did. And I did the work thoroughly: using two staples at the top and bottom of each booklet (as directed), and did it hundreds of times.
When I was almost 'done,' I watched someone attempt to read one, get confused, rip it open, and then have it separate into badly-torn, incoherently-ordered pages.
Chuck said some kind words to me after the well-deserved tirade that inevitably followed the report of my incompetence to our director. The most complimentary thing he called me that day was 'f---ing worthless.'
You can imagine that I was pretty reluctant to mess with the administration of a Glenbrooks ever after, and would only do so via Chuck.
Fast forward 4 years: I was a year out of high school and coaching. I noticed that a good team from Caddo Magnet HS that won 5 of 7 debates was not scheduled to debate in elimination rounds (or rather, I noticed that Nermin Ghali was really* upset about this and wondered what was going on).
I came to see Chuck, pretty much assuming that a mistake had occurred literally anywhere else in the chain of command. He immediately sent people to confirm and identify the mistake. Turns out, it was on him.
He didn't waste time on self-recrimination--he realized it had ripple effects on many debates and had me(!) run to stop the announcement of results and pairings for the first elimination debates.
I failed--I caught our director after said announcement just* as he was about to dismiss his (large, anxious) audience. I was so panicked that I didn't realize I was asking him to disrupt the entire competition on the basis of a sketchy report from a proven nincompoop with no actual role in running the damn thing until he gave me my second Glenbrooks Fuckup Death Stare. At least this time there was no tirade.
For Chuck, the self-recrimination began immediately after he fixed the glitch. He checked lots of other results, but he couldn't be sure he didn't mess up others earlier in the day. The man had to enter literally hundreds of results into a computer and he messed one up. It just happened to be an important one.
[Anecdote ends]

Chuck made a mistake because his health was failing. It happens. His focus wavered from a demanding task momentarily. It wasn't really his fault. He was heartbroken anyway.
Some years later, it was my turn to find my body in the way of my will and mind. My dexterity, memory, stamina and strength--all suddenly slipping away. Like Chuck, I was losing the capacity to do things that make me a capable, competent community member. Things that make me me. It was devastating. It is* devastating.
When thinking about coping, I consider the way Chuck did tournaments thereafter. He didn't run quite as many (at first), and he paid more attention to his body while working. He modified his processes to manage risk. He used technology strategically--electronic ballots FTW. He took the hit to his ego and accepted some losses. He was sad too--which gave me some permission to be sad as well.
Being a thoughtful and competent guy, he competently managed his disability. On that basis, he kept doing what he loved for the next 17 years. He didn't make all the 'smart' calls about his health--but he did the best he could and coped with the consequences.
Being somewhat less thoughtful and much less competent, that's an example I'll struggle to build on and learn from for the rest of my life.

When my wife Lesley and I consider a trek out to a tournament, we weigh costs--in time, effort and health (hundreds of teenagers in a confined space--not sanitary)--against seeing an ever-shrinking number of old friends.
Chuck was one of our few remaining links to high school debate. Even after we moved far away, seeing him was a compelling argument for a journey out to the Chicago suburbs for a Glenbrooks now and again. So many of my mentors and friends are gone now. Many retired, by far too many died on their feet in a game that can burn up the body to fuel the mind and voice.
He was a good, sweet man, a great teacher, mentor and friend, and he will be sorely missed. We were lucky to have him, and lost him too soon.
RIP, Chuck.
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