The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Speech and debate team experiences major changes this season

When speech and debate practices began on Sept. 24, the returning debaters noticed several changes for the season including a new coach, new captains, the implementation of a travel team and the new student-led team meetings.

Coach Erick Rector said the captains for the year have yet to be confirmed. Until then, he will be giving applicants a one-month trial period during which they will take turns being in charge of the meetings. After evaluating their performances, he will make his final decisions.

In previous years, there have not been such lengthy trial periods. The high number of applicants this year has resulted in a longer application process, Rector said.

“A lot of people want to be captain on paper, but don’t actually do anything for the team,” Rector said. “I’m making sure I’m actually getting commitment out of these kids.”

In addition to the new system of selecting captains, the team also welcomes its newest member this year, coach Keller Firestone. Firestone will be coaching congress debate, extemporaneous speech, original oratory and advocacy, expository speaking, oratorical interpretation and original prose and poetry.

She has formerly coached at several schools from the Fremont district including Lynbrook (where Firestone coached for 36 years), Fremont, Monta Vista, Homestead and Cupertino.

“I have always enjoyed working with students and I think this will be a good year here,” Firestone said. “I hope to make good students better.”

To meet these goals, Firestone said she will try to promote an environment where students help each other improve.

“I like to have students critique each other before I present mine,” Firestone said. “I think that students coaching students is really the key to having a great team.”

Rector said he is excited to have such an experienced coach join the speech and debate staff.

“She’s one of the most decorated NFL (national forensics league) coaches in the nation,” Rector said. “She’s got many years of experience and she has a real passion for speech and debate that I think will be very beneficial for the team.”

Another interesting change is the implementation of a travel team for the very first time. Rector said the school would be able to take around 10 speech and debaters to a few out-of-state tournaments throughout the year. These students will be chosen based on how successful they are at league tournaments and at some invitational tournaments.

“A lot of students are doing really well, and they have been very dedicated to speech and debate, treating it as their primary extracurricular activity,” Rector said. “I felt, as a coach, that I should extend more opportunities for them to have fun.”

Senior and former captain Ishaan Kolluri said the team has also decided to conduct unified team meetings this year once or twice a month for all speech and debaters in all events. The purpose of the meetings is to convey information about tournament schedules, share results from tournaments and hold team lectures.

“Team lectures are meant to help more than just one event,” Kolluri said. “We want the younger students to get extensive, baseline knowledge of economics, politics and social issues so that they have a much better learning curve in their respective events.”

With a new coach, pending new captains and new additions to the team, Kolluri said all the changes will create more team unity.

“The goals as a team are first to bond the team even further and make sure everyone gets new skills,” Kolluri said. “We need to remember the goal is to improve the presentation skills and knowledge base of all members.”

Kolluri said the new skillset that the members will acquire this year and the newly found team unity should help the school gain a competitive edge over its rivals and become more successful.

“Saratoga is in the top five [schools in the Coast Forensic League],” Kolluri said. “We want to push the outside of the envelope and show the juggernauts like Leland and Bellarmine that we've got many very talented young participants.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Saratoga Falcon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *