After not competing in tournaments for the past 30 years, Glendale’s Competitive Speech Team brought five medals home from Pasadena City College on Oct. 29 and 30, the fourth tournament they’ve been to this semester.
Robert “Hot Stuff” Cannon and Dave Hale received a second place medal for their open duo interpretation of the short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber.
Cannon, 26, a double major in Cinema and Photography, took two other medals as well. He came in second for his presentation in the after-dinner speaking event. His topic was about how American society views pornography. He came in fourth for the program oral interpretation speech; the theme was technology.
When asked how he felt about his wins, Cannon replied “A-OK,” adding that he felt elated.
Hale not only earned the second place medal for the duo interpretation, but also received fifth place for his prose interpretation of “Birth” by Amy Sedaris.
Ira Heffler, a speech teacher and one of the team coaches, was gratfied when the other coaches came up to them and congratulated them for their wins.
According to Jean Perry, Division Chair of Language Arts, GCC has had a competitive speaking team as far back as the 1950s and 1960s and have been competing in service clubs ever since. However, they hadn’t gone to tournaments since the mid 1970s because there were no coaches on staff.
The Competitive Speech Team is a group of students of various majors. Several speech teachers on campus coach the team and help them practice and perfect their speeches.
In a mutually supportative atmosphere, the team members also coach one another.
When Zena Long was practicing her “speech to entertain” for the Cal State Long Beach Tournament, held Oct. 15, she was coached by Perry and Heffler as well as fellow team members Luis Dela Rosa and Cannon.
Long likes this system of getting feedback from the team.
“I’m new,” said Long. “And I need a lot of help. The more people who give me constructive criticism, the better.”
She came away from that competition, which was her first, with first place in the novice division for her speech on sex changes. She received a trophy, a skull that lights up.
Long is a second-semester business major and a student worker in the in the Language Arts Division.
Perry was Long’s Speech 101 professor and after Long had given a speech to entertain for the class, Perry, who liked the speech, told her about the competition. At first she wasn’t really interested, but Heffler talked her into it.
“I’m glad I did [join],” said Long. “I really am enjoying the competition.”
Another student who at first did not really want to join was Tim Peterson, 20, also a business major.
Peterson had taken some classes with Heffler in the past. At first he said he was doing it as a favor to Heffler, more than for himself, because he really liked his teacher.
And although he was very wary going into the competition, he had to wear a suit and tie, not exactly something he was looking forward to.
However, after the parliamentary debate, that he and debate partner Alex Kang did Oct. 21 at Azusa Pacific University, he felt a bit differently towards the team.
“It was the most fun I’ve ever had and I would recommend it to anyone,” said Peterson.
Peterson and Kang won two out of the six rounds in the debate. Since it was the first time GCC had a debate team compete in years they did great according to Perry.
“Everyone is on a learning curve right now, both the students and the coaches,” said Heffler.
Both Peterson and Kang said they were excited about the debate and want to go again.
Kang, one of the few who joined by his own volition, said he joined because he wanted to get better at interviews. And in debating you need to quickly think of a reply, similar to being in an interview.
Kyle Aaron, 22, a Graphic Design major and a member of the team who did impromptu speaking at Long Beach, heard about the team during his Speech 103 class, which both Perry and Heffler teach together.
“Whether people like it or not, they need to come out of their bubble,” said Aaron. “It’s good life experience. I like it more than I thought I would.”
“I would recommend it [to other students],” said Long. “It’s fun, for one. And it keeps you focused. It’s a lot of work, I’ve found out-to compete against these people because they’ve been doing it for years. You don’t go there to lose.”
Students need not fear being in front of a large group of people though. Usually it’s just the judges, the other competitors and a few spectators.
Long however prefers the audience with more people; at least with the speech to entertain. At the finals, where the crowd is usually the biggest, there were about 30 spectators.
“You feed off the crowd’s responses, the laughter,” said Long. “If there are a few people there and they’re not laughing you feel like your not doing well.”
The Competitive Speech Team has done rather well, besides the wins this weekend.
In the warm-up competition held at El Camino College, Sept. 23 and 24, Alex Mandelberg received an Excellence Certificate (second place) for his speech to entertain, novice division.
Long received first place for her speech to entertain at Long Beach.
And also at Long Beach Cannon and Hale made it to the finals for their open duo interpretation for the same piece that they won with this weekend.
They were the only team from a two year college to make it to the finals.
There are no prerequisites for the Competitive Speech Team and it looks great on college applications. Students don’t have to have taken any speech classes to join the team.
The one thing that makes both Heffler and Perry kind of disheartened, is that once they get the students trained in the art of speech, it’s almost time for them to transfer to a four year college. And who knows, maybe they will have to compete against each other.
The team does not have a specific meeting time or place, though some of them can usually be found in Room AD 205 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon.
Their next competition is this weekend at CSUN and there will be over seven students going. Aaron will be doing impromptu speaking, Dela Rosa will be doing pros interpretation of “The Psycho Ex-Game” by Merrill Makor and Andy Prieboy and Cannon will be doing five different speeches.
Going into the event Heffler has high hopes.
“Each time we go to competition we do significantly better then we did at the one before,” said Heffler.
For more information on joining the team, or to attend a competition, go to the Language Arts Division Office in the Administration Building, Room AD217-A, or call (818) 240-1000, ext. 5504, for Jean Perry and ext. 3113 for Ira Heffler.