Story by Andrea Lopez, for The Muleskinner—
The UCM speech and debate team left Webster University with more accomplishments to add to their archive after Webster’s annual Gorlok Gala Jan. 25-27.
Besides Nationals, the Gorlok Gala is the largest tournament UCM’s speech and debate team partakes in.
Micah Chisman and David Rogers both received an excellence award in extemporaneous speaking, which means they were in the top 10 percent in the competition.
Extemporaneous speaking involves students getting 30 minutes to construct a speech in response to a question they had been given revolving around current events, on an international or domestic level.
Brent Mitchell was awarded in the prose interpretation category and John Markley for poetry. Similar to acting, the interpretation events involve students performing literature instead of writing a speech.
Ryan Michael received the excellence award for the after dinner speaking event. In addition to the individual events, Michael and Mariah Suddarth broke into the semi-final round of impromptu speaking, with Michael also breaking into the semis round of extemporaneous speaking.
He also competed in the finals round of persuasive speaking and tied for first place. He was awarded second on judge’s preference.
On the debate side, the teams of Derek Pritchett and Ethan Putman, and the novice team of Jeff May and Sam Begley, broke into parliamentary octo final rounds. Pritchett placed twentieth in open speaks in a pool of 70 people, while Putman was seventeenth. May was the second place speaker in the entire novice pool.
When it comes to speech and debate, it all depends on the events students are competing in. Some are limited preparation events, meaning little can be done in advance.
However, most of the time students practice their events with members of the coaching staff for feedback.
UCM has practice debate rounds which students use to their advantage.
Even with these opportunities, a lot of preparation comes in the form of keeping up with the news via reading, watching and discussing current events.
“We are one of the only schools in the state of Missouri that offers a truly comprehensive program,” said Nicole Freeman, adviser of UCM’s speech and debate team.
“Basically we have speeches or debates about nearly anything.”
UCM offers several types of debate and 11 distinct speech events.
In the speech category, the speaking events include informative, persuasion, after dinner speaking and communication analysis.
In informative speeches, new technologies or discoveries are often spoken about.
“One student is writing a speech on newly found cave art and how it is providing new information on a lost civilization,” Freeman said.
Persuasive speeches often focus on human rights, environmental law or protection, or reform.
“This year we have a student doing a persuasion on how we need stricter laws monitoring the disposal of coal ash, which is polluting our waterways,” Freeman said.
As for after dinner speeches, they can be about anything.
“We have one competitor speaking on how adults should play more like we did as children because play is linked to many health benefits,” Freeman said.
Lastly is communication analysis, which involves analyzing a communication artifact through the use of a communication theory or model.
On the debate spectrum, topics are usually linked to current events with some being evidence driven and others a bit more philosophical.
With no graduating seniors this year, UCM’s speech and debate team is full of fresh young faces.
“The potential this team holds right now is quite amazing,” Freeman said.
There are 15 active members on the team and they are always looking for others to join. Students from all majors are welcome and no experience is necessary.
For more information about UCM’s speech and debate team, email Freeman at email@example.com.