Speech and Debate have not been cancelled

Remy Cohler, Reporter

As many events are postponed, and even canceled, Speech and Debate teams have successfully found a way to continue with their 2021 spring season.

In a time without a worldwide pandemic, the speech and debate team would be traveling outside of Normal, Illinois to showcase their handcrafted speeches along with their incredible public speaking skills. Unfortunately, this season started off with a completely virtual camp, and tournaments have continued to be hosted remotely through Zoom or prerecorded videos. 

“Coaches and tournament managers have been working hard to figure out what is going to work best,” co-head coach Rebekah Hoffman said. “Some tournaments have been held all asynchronously where everything is prerecorded and some are being held completely live.” 

Despite the changes to this season, members are excelling individually and as a team. Some remarkable team accomplishments of this year include placing second at the George Armstrong Heart of Illinois Invitational, winning the Rolling Meadows Invitational Tournament, and, recently, winning the IHSA Virtual Regional Tournament.

“My first big virtual tournament was Nationals this past summer,” senior Katelyn DeKeersgieter said. “I placed in the top 30 in the United States extemporaneous speaking, and it was my first year doing extemporaneous speaking. I also placed third at Downers Grove South for extemporaneous speaking.” 

Along with DeKeersgieter, senior Rylee Camp also had some incredible accomplishments this season. 

“We recently had regionals, and I placed first place in dramatic interpretation and fourth place in oratorical declamation,” Camp said. 

Being a part of the Speech and Debate team is far more than placing high and winning tournaments, it is more about being a part of the extremely welcoming community. The Speech and Debate community consists of many intelligent students of different backgrounds that speak on topics that matter to them. 

“My favorite thing about speech and debate is that it gives kids a chance to find and use their voice,” Hoffman said. “One big focus of speech is advocacy. It’s really cool to watch a kid advocate for something they care about.” 

The warm feeling of community that speech and debate holds is mutual between the coaches and students. 

“You find that the community is really supportive,” DeKeersgieter said. “I think a big part about U-High speech in particular is that even when we are all competing against each other in the same event, it’s so positive. There is so much positive reinforcement and support throughout the team.” 

Speech and Debate team will continue even through the summer.  Watch for the upcoming virtual showcase before Nationals where you will be able to listen to and support these students.