Speech and debate team looks to attend more travel tournaments

September 5, 2016 — by Elizabeth Lee and Kyle Wang

2016-2017 speech and debate team recap

As he left the campus of Mission College in Santa Clara last May, then-sophomore Varun Viswanath felt a sense of utter disappointment. Used to placing in the top three in local tournaments hosted by the Coast Forensics League, he was dissatisfied with ultimately placing 13th in Oratorical Interpretation at the State tournament. The competition from other leagues had simply outshined him in the final rounds.

To better prepare himself for the upcoming season, Viswanath, like many other speech and debate team members, said he will attend more travel tournaments outside of California this year in order to experience a larger pool of competitors. “These tournaments will not only be enjoyable, but [will also be] an educational experience that can definitely strengthen my skills,” Viswanath said. “I [will be] able to meet different people and experience different levels and types of competition.”

Traditionally, the team has competed only within the Bay Area, in both smaller local league tournaments and larger invitationals. These tournaments often involve similar pools of competition; only rarely do students living outside of California travel to California to compete.

For now, the team has not finalized a list of tournaments it will be attending, but several members have expressed interest in tournaments such as the Grapevine Invitational in Grapevine, Texas, and the Glenbrooks Invitational at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill.  

Sophomore Roshan Verma, who competes in International Extemporaneous Speaking, hopes that attending more travel tournaments will expose him to a different level of competition. After he failed to advance to the elimination rounds at the state- and national-qualifying tournaments last year, Verma hopes to go further this season.  

Verma said his main goal is to qualify for the National Speech and Debate Association’s national tournament in early June of 2017. In order to qualify, Verma would need to place in the top three of his event, International Extemporaneous Speech, at the Coast Forensic League’s annual National Qualifying Tournament.

To efficiently practice for the upcoming season, he gave practice speeches by himself over the summer, even though the season doesn’t officially start until early October. For Verma, traveling to tournaments with his teammates is one key step along the way to reaching his goals.

“Going to travel tournaments motivates me to work harder, especially if I don’t place,” Verma said.  “It can definitely be discouraging at times, but serves as a reminder to work hard;  and if you do place, you have to remember you got there for a reason and you have to maintain your work ethic.”

Though he understands that his challenging course load limits his options, Verma still plans on attending more travel tournaments.

“I definitely want to go to as many travel tournaments as I can,” Verma said, “as long as the competition there pushes me to be the best speaker I can be.”

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