Golden Cowboy Speech Invitational Earns Kudos

Derek Stowe

Glendale hosted a multi-state speech and debate tournament, the 2011 “Golden Cowboy Swing,” followed by a theater show and awards ceremony in a jam-packed Kreider Hall on Feb. 12.

Vaqueros organized the first two days of the festival. The third day was hosted by the Cal State LA Golden Eagles. College teams came from as far as Nebraska, Texas, Maryland and Arizona.
“The people who use this [skill] will often go into politics or law,” said Language Arts Chair Jean Perry. “Business leaders and celebrities such as Diane Sawyer, Jane Pauley and Kelsey Grammer faced their fears and learned good presentation skills through speech and debate.”

This was Glendale’s third annual “Golden Cowboy Swing” contest and featured speech competitions in informative speaking, after dinner speaking, prose, poetry, persuasion and impromptu.

The debate teams argued about whether the federal government should substantially reform its provision of mental health services to the chronically mentally ill.

Vaquero means “cowboy” in Spanish, hence the cowboy theme. A Golden Cowboy statuette was handed out to the top five contestants in each category.

Another advantage to being an accomplished speech and debater is the fact that being involved in speech and debate can lead to scholarships. The University of Texas at El Paso, Point Loma, San Diego State, North Dakota State University and USC all offer full four-year scholarships for qualified students, said Perry.

“Speech and debate will also improve your job interview skills and come in handy for a doctoral dissertation,” said Tayra Quiñones, vice president of the speech and debate club. Some advanced degrees require an oral examination before and after submitting one’s dissertation.

For the Saturday night awards ceremony, speech faculty and club members performed colorful diversions, dances and a wild west-style skit before a packed house.

In the skit, a young groom gets shot by a bride’s drunken husband who speaks up instead of forever holding his peace because she never divorced him.

In order to better serve the invitees, Quiñones said that her club’s team competed Friday, Feb. 11 but opted out of the competition Saturday.
Besides setting up 40 classrooms for the invitees and providing meals for 150 people, volunteers from the debate club supervised fun and games such as a scavenger hunt and a piñata contest. They also had saloon gals teach line dancing.

“Tournaments can be so tiring and so stressful,” said club secretary Frankie Dournayan. “Activities bring [the event] back to being about fun and doing well and encouraging others to do well. If you lose sight of that, then why would you join speech and debate in the first place?”

The speech and debate club started preparing for this tournament last summer. To join up with next year’s contestants, interested students should take Speech 190: Forensics. Forensics simply means truth-seeking. That’s why it’s often used to describe crime-solving.

Students usually prefer to specialize in one or more of the 11 speech categories. Platform speeches include informative, persuasive and after dinner speech; limited preparation speeches allocate between seven and 30 minutes to prepare; and interpretation speeches imply drama.

There are two types of debates – parliamentary debates for academics; and Lincoln-Douglas debates for disputing logic, ethics and philosophy.

The judges that were required to evaluate the seven ongoing events at a time included volunteer professors and alumni returning with a bachelor’s degree. Credibility, organization, speaking style, voice clarity, eye contact, evidence and reasoning were just some of the criteria.

Speech professor Ira Heffler, who judged and played the drunken husband in the awards ceremony skit, said, “It was an honor to host this tournament. It’s a unique opportunity, and we are the only school that does so using costumes and a theme.”

Student Rachelle DeYoung from Azusa Pacific University took home the After Dinner Speech award and added her name to the award’s title, now the: Conner-Conner-DeYoung Award for her most humorous after dinner speech on the topic of hoarding.

GCC’s Friday achievers included Josh Everman as Top Novice, and Armond Aivazyan and Robert Black as quarterfinalists.

Black’s 8-year-old daughter Saer appeared in the wedding skit and said, “I think I would do better in speech [versus debate] because I don’t like fighting. I want to be an actress. To become what you want to be in life, just practice and believe in yourself.”

The next home speech and debate tournament is the Glendale College Spring Intramural and will be held on May 12 and 13. This time, Vaqueros will be competing against Vaqueros since it’s only for GCC students.

The fourth annual “Golden Cowboy Swing” tournament will be held here in Glendale in February 2012.

For more information, interested parties can visit To join the speech and debate club, which meets Thursdays from 12:20 to 1:30 p.m. in AD 205, inquire at [email protected]