Intramural Speech Tournament Interprets, Informs, Persuades

STEPHEN HOTCHKISS
El Vaquero Staff Writer

With more than 60 participants, GCC’s first annual intramural speech tournament highlighted the growing popularity of the art form of public speaking at GCC.

The tournament, which was the brainchild of speech team coaches Ira Heffler and Jean Perry, was open to any student who had not previously performed in any formal speech competition.

The three categories of speeches that were included in the tournament were oral interpretation, informative and persuasive.
Far exceeding any expectations by Heffler or Perry, the high number of entrants — 60 — gave way for an extended variety of topics, ranging from humor to the macabre.

Liberal Arts major, Yutaro Okamiya, informed judges of a mysterious skin disease known as pityriasis. Having been previously afflicted with the disease himself, Okamiya revealed that little is known about pityriasis in the medical community.

With the absence of proven effective cures, Okamiya offered a selection of home remedies that proved successful in his bout with the ravaging disease.

Okamiya is currently enrolled in Speech 101 at GCC and was encouraged by Heffler to participate in the competition.

This is Okamiya’s fifth attempt at Speech 101. After “maxing out” the number of times he was able to enroll in Speech 101 at other colleges, Okamiya is flourishing in GCC’s speech program.

His speech on pityriasis won him third place in the informative category, and he is one week away from triumphantly gaining the elusive three credits.

Okamiya credits the speech team and Heffler for their continual support and encouragement that enabled him to accomplish “[his] dreams of passing Speech 101.”

Heffler maintains that “there’s something else, other than the academic” that is offered in any speech competition. “There is an incredible sense of belonging and heart and camaraderie,” said Heffler. “Students don’t go just to win trophies; there’s something more valuable than that.”

The intramural tournament consisted of three rounds and adhered to structural and judgmental policies of formal competition. Situated in various classrooms throughout the campus, students gave three separate performances to three different judges.

With 21 judges, any given classroom would only consist of three to four competitors and a single judge.

As many students fear performing in front of a large audience, Jean Perry believes that intramural competition also helped dispel any audience-related phobias among potential speech team recruits.

“You’re in a room with four other people,” said Perry. “It’s a lot less scary than even your speech class.”

According to speech team presidents, Dianna Platero and Luis Delarosa, there are many reasons why students join the speech team. “It looks good on a resume and gives students a sense of pride-and confidence,” said De La Rosa.

Platero attests that her own reason for joining the squad was due to the addictive nature of the competition. “Once you go into to competition, it consumes you.” said Platero.

The tournament was formed, in part, to ignite a passion for speech in students who have not been privy to the public speaking experience.

Chris Bruno, recently transferred to GCC from PCC, signed up for the event to argue the importance of music in education to “anyone who would listen” while gaining extra credit in his Speech 101 class; he found himself enjoying the process of public speaking and debate.

“I’m just a kid who is in this world. I look at this country and I look at everything and I say ‘What’s going on?'” said Bruno, “Mr. Heffler told me I was articulate and that I should compete. I thought it would be an easy way to get extra credit; who would have thought it would be something I actually like?”

The chance to voice his thoughts in front of a supportive and accommodating audience is something that attracted Bruno to potentially joining the team next fall. “My parents don’t listen to me at all because they think I’m all double talk,” said Bruno. “It’s a whole world, I’ve barely scratched the surface but it seems like I’d be good at it, so why not?”

According to Perry, “a big draw” for students who join the speech team is the “nurturing and reassuring,” relationships with fellow members and coaches.

The results for the competition are as follows:
For the interpretation category, Michelle Kovashimeh and Javier Martin tied for third place. David Rans and Judith Cabrera tied for second place and Amanda Maaz and Eleonora Khachatryan tied for first place.

In the informative speaking category, Paul Ekstrand, Andy Fisher-Price and Yutaro Okayima tied for third place. Selina Mangassarian placed second. Anik Charchyan and Chris Beltran tied for first place.

In the persuasive category, Jesse Biddle and Adrine Akopyan tied for third place. Karina Duenas placed second. David Machen won first place.