Speech and Debate team doubles in size


Photo courtesy of Megan Rea

The team gathers together to take a photo after a successful novice tournament at GlenOak highschool. The team finished with 8 people placing.

In a world where we need to use our voices effectively, it’s important that we are trained at a young age to learn how to communicate and speak well. 77% of people struggle with anxiety when it comes to public speaking. With so much noise surrounding us we must use our voices wisely. 

The speech and debate team has doubled in size from last year and is showing that many want to better their speaking abilities. With the teams’ increase in numbers there have been many ups and downs. 

Megan Rea has been coaching for 5 years, but started head coaching the GlenOak team last year after beginning her career as an assistant coach for Jackson High School. 

“The doubling in size has been a really good problem to have on the team. While this issue has come up it also has provided opportunities for the returning members to step up and help,” coach Rea said.

Doubling buses and making detailed coaching schedules, the team has had issues with dividing the number of coaches to students. While this has been an issue it also has taught the members of the team to be independent. 

Being independent has not just been an issue this year. When the pandemic hit, the team was faced with fewer members, less practices with no time all together, and having strictly online tournaments. 

“It has made it a lot more chaotic. You have to put a lot more work in to get time with coaches, and you need to be able to be motivated to work by yourself,” sophomore Claire Caldwell said. 

Returning members have recruited new students which is one contributing factor to the doubling in size. The team has also gone to all the freshmen level English classes in September and gave out flyers to help with recruitment.

“The team is very large but the season has been fun so far. Everyone is a character,” freshman Josh Jacobs said. 

The team is filled with many personalities. This is one of the many main reasons why most people join this program. 

“Our returners went out and found many of their friends with great personalities which have led to an amazing team dynamic,” Rea said. 

The current team has some big shoes to fill. Last year, senior Caris Lantz and alumni Greg Giavisis qualified for the national tournament as alternates, and 11 out of 22 members qualified for state.

“Another great success from last year is seniors Roman Shaheen and Zachary Gemma made it to the final Round at state. Which had not happened in their category in almost 10 years,” Rea said. 

The team this year has already had many members step up. With junior Anya Cwiak placing first at the novice tournament in Original Oratory, “seniors” Bradley Mull and Caris Lantz placing first at Perry in Public Forum debate, and “junior” Rachel Gortney winning the overnight tournament at Moeller in extemporaneous. 

With this team’s many new members and returning competitors, the team is off to a good start for the year with hopes of recreating past success.