Speech and debate prepping for new season

September 23, 2010 — by Vijay Menon and Abhishek Venkataramana

For the past several years, the speech and debate team has struggled to establish itself with a solid coaching foundation. As the team prepares for another year of competition, English teacher and head coach Erick Rector hopes that permanent new coaching additions can take the squad to the next level. The club will have the added advantage of having several newly hired coaches to assist the team.

“The fact that we are now going to have multiple coaches for each event is something that I think will really help us stand out this year in terms of the competition,” said Rector.

The most significant addition to the squad is Steve Clemmons, a professional debate coach who will join the team as assistant coach this year after several years coaching at Harker Middle School. Clemmons will assist in coaching extemporaneous speaking, parliamentary debate and public forum debate.

“Having [Clemmons] is going to be a great advantage for the team,” said Rector. “Not only does he have years of experience both coaching and debating, but he also is going to be coaching full time, so the students will always have him there to help out.”

In a welcome addition to the team, Saratoga High alum and Stanford student Andrew Suciu will return to coach Parliamentary Debate after taking a year-long hiatus to pursue educational opportunities in Bhutan.

Several returning students will also have to adapt to their new leadership roles. Seniors Keerti Shukla and Vance Lindholm will lead as team captains. Seniors Abhishek Venkataramana and Karthik Annaamalai are Parliamenary Debate captains while Public Forum is run by junior captains Ruchie Bhardwaj, Danielle Savage and Parul Singh. Seniors David Mandell, Taara Rangan and Vijay Menon will lead the speech team as the Individual Events captains. Junior congress captain Vishal Goel and junior Extemporaneous Speaking captains Viraj Parmar and Michael Chen round out the leadership roles.

“This year, I am especially impressed with the amount of leadership we have on this team,” said Rector. “We have a great group of captains who have not only had a great amount of success in their respective events but also are great teachers and can prove a great asset especially to the novice debaters.”

The first league tournament will be Oct. 17 at Leland High School. The team hopes to build off last year, when it sent four students, Goel, Lindholm, Menon and junior Sankash Shankar, to the state tournament.

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