Debaters compete in states

May 7, 2009 — by Karthik Annaamalai and Vijay Menon

The speech and debate season came to a close as the team competed in the California State Tournament in Culver City from April 24-26. The club sent three members from a team of over 30 participants—juniors Varun Parmar and Saniha Shankar in Student Congress and sophomore David Mandell in Humorous Interpretation.

The three earned their bids by winning in a competitive qualifying tournament.

Although none of the debaters managed to go past the preliminary rounds, speech and debate members were pleased with the season as a whole.
“Everyone has worked hard all season, and I’m proud of our entire team,” said team captain Farid Jiandani.

Mandell missed breaking to the semi-final round by only point.

“I can’t believe I did not get to advance to the next round because of one point,” said Mandell. “I thought that my performance was one of my best this year, but I guess it wasn’t good enough for the judges.”

Mandell, who is only in his first year of speech, is looking to build on his success heading into next year.

“I know that I can do better next year,” said Mandell. “Naturally it took me some time to get adjusted since it was my first year. But next year, that’s a whole different story.”

Shankar and Parmar were slightly disappointed with their performances, but they hope to improve in their senior year, which will be their last opportunity to attend states.

“The results might not have reflected our abilities, but going to states was a great experience in itself, and I can’t wait for next year,” said Shankar.
Coach Erick Rector was happy with his team’s performance and hopes the success carries into next year.

“I was proud of our kids,” said Rector. “I think many of the results were based on judging preference rather than student performance, which is unfortunate.”

As the team looks ahead to the next debate season, they will likely have to adapt to many coaching changes. Because the team depends upon college students as coaches, many will not be able to continue their commitment into next year, and Rector is looking for new coaches to fill the vacancies.

“The majority of our student coaches will not be able to continue with us next year,” said Rector. “I’m currently in the process of looking for new coaches, and I will be back next year.”

Speech and debate has been hampered by constant coaching changes over the last several years and this instability has made it difficult for the team to match the success of such powerhouse schools as Bellarmine and Leland. While Rector does not envision such success in the upcoming year, he feels that the team is headed in the right direction and will prosper with good coaching.

One idea that Rector has for next year is collaboration between the drama department and members of the speech team.

“[Mandell] is an example of someone who came from drama and did really well in his first year of speech,” said Rector. “I’m hoping that we can build off of that for next year.”

Rector also said that the school would not be offering a speech and debate class next year, commonplace practice at other successful schools in the debate community.

“That really isn’t one of the district’s top priorities right now,” said Rector, although the school will continue to offer rhetoric and oral interpretation to interested students.

With the right combination of luck and talent, Rector hopes that the team’s success will continue into next year.

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