Forensics Team Wins National, Campus Competitions

Jennifer Tinoco

Inside a classroom on the second floor of the Administration Building, a group of students are seated facing fellow student Robert Cannon. They all seem to be waiting for class to start, but in reality they are discussing their victorious semester.

Club President, Robert Cannon said, “We are having such a great semester, especially with a more expanded team this year.”
Compared to last year, the club has almost double their members, carrying about 25 club members today.

The Speech and Debate team recently became champions on campus during the ASGCC Academic Decathlon.

The decathlon was a competition to help clubs earn some cash by answering a variety of questions that ranged from common sense answers to very difficult ones. Sixteen clubs participated, but there was only one prize of $1000. After leading in three difficult rounds, the Speech and Debate team received $500, which was deposited into their club account and the rest was distributed among the five participating team members.

“We are used to competing in tournaments all the time, which helped us be more competitive than other clubs here on campus,” said Cannon. “Our club really needs the money for future competitions in the spring semester. It takes a lot of money to register our club members in tournaments and we also need to pay for a hotel, car pooling or plane tickets, and gas money.”

When we competed in the ASGCC [decathlon], we knew that the money would help our club’s expenses, since most of it comes from our pockets. This money will aid us for the national competitions next semester,” added Cannon.

In order to qualify for national competitions in the spring, the club needed to do well during the fall semester competitions. This past semester, they have competed in 15 debates.

Members who placed in any of the 15 tournaments had the chance to qualify for nationals, and some students on the Speech and Debate team have already met the qualifications.

Some of this semester’s winners were David Hale, who placed first in poetry interpretation, as well as Cannon, who placed second in the same category. Tracy Reed and Cannon took first place in a duo competition, and Ryan Robbins won second place in dramatic interpretation.

“The two most prestigious national competitions are done by the end of April,” said Cannon.

“One taking place in Minnesota called the AFA, is one of the biggest ones yet,” Cannon adds.

During regular tournaments, the team competes with Southern and Northern California schools, including Cal States and UC’s, and some from Arizona.

During nationals, they still compete against four year schools, but as team member Hale said, “Nationals is a great way for our team here at GCC to be recognized by schools all over the country.”

The Speech and Debate club meets every Thursday in AD 205, where they train for big competitions.

Professors Ira Heffler and Jean Perry, Director of Forensics and chair of the Language Arts division, have helped shape the team to what it is today.

“I am the person who the coaches report to, I handle the club budget and I decide which competitions we should attend,” said Perry. “All students interested in joining the Speech and Debate club are welcomed,” she added.

“Transfer students who are a part of this team have a chance to win scholarships and are able to enhance their critical thinking skills,” said Perry.

“We also have intramural tournaments, where our Speech 101 students may debate against our club members. It is a fun experience for all of our students to be apart of,” added Perry.

The team held a Speech and Debate Showcase on campus last week, which was comprised of poetry interpretation, prose interpretation, impromptu speaking and dramatic duo interpretation. The performances were all given by the club members and the event was open to everyone.

“The Speech and Debate Showcase also helps us practice,” said Cannon. “Next semester we will be hosting a ‘Speak-A-Fest’ which also helps us prepare right before nationals begin,” added Cannon.

The “Speak-A-Fest” occurs every spring semester and is held in the Student Center. It takes place over a two day period with some of the best speeches being performed. Admission is free the event is and open to everyone.

“We want to be a regular [campus] fund-raising club, and I think that our team will do well with such a victorious fall semester, we hope we can achieve more goals next year,” said Cannon.

“We like to win in our competitions. But it is not always about winning, it is more valuable for our team to stick together as a family. Our squad truly has a big heart,” added Heffler.