Speech tournament offers experience, growth


Cindy Pantoja / The Advocate

Speech team member Aman Butt accepts a second place award in the informative speech category at the Valley to Valley Speech and Debate Tournament held at Diablo Valley College on Nov. 26.

By Cindy Pantoja, Editor-in-Chief

The Contra Costa College speech and debate team has a history of excellence and their participation during their last tournament was not an exception.

Six students competed in the Valley to Valley Speech and Debate Tournament held at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill Nov. 23-24.

The team enlightened the judges with informative, persuasive and dramatic interpretation speeches bringing home second and fifth place awards in the process.

Computer science and business major Aman Butt placed second in the informative category.

Butt’s speech informed the audience about Lego pieces with braille letters to help blind kids learn and communicate better. He used Lego pieces that he carved and painted by hand as prompts.

“These are regular two-by-three bricks that I cut off certain sites to represent different letters, numbers and symbols. That way, visually impaired children can learn braille and at the same time play,” Butt said.

Every tournament has a first-time member who puts their fears aside and brings their best to the competition. This time, that member was Kim Baldemorez.

With only a few weeks of experience, Baldemorez placed fifth place in the category of Top Speaker. She participated in the debate section of the tournament discussing the Roman Statute that establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The students have been working hard since the last tournament, as most competitions require 12 to 15 hours of work.

Competitors must have a strong focus on memorization and physical expression going into speech tournaments.

Journalism major Xavier Johnson, who participated in the category of dramatic interpretation, said he was amazed by the preparation of the participants.

“It was humbling to see the amount of talent in this tournament,” Johnson said. “There were many different types of speeches and a lot of different ways to interpret speech that I’ve never seen before.”

The team competed at the same level as more prominent colleges and universities, such as Bradley University, which historically has been one of the top forensics programs in the nation.

“The bottom line is the DVC tournament was probably the hardest we had so far this season, not only due to the number of entries but also by the caliber of our competition,” speech professor Randy Carver said.

Before the Valley to Valley tournament, members of the team had an opportunity to seek new talents on campus during an Intramural Tournament organized by the speech department.

The two-round tournament held on Nov. 14 began in Fireside Hall and continued in classrooms across the CCC campus.

The participants chose topics that resonated with the hurdles their community and family members face.

Communications major Eric Martinez served as a judge in the informative category during the on-campus competition.

He said CCC students had been taking advantage of what they have learned in their classes and they were fully prepared for the tournament.

“Even though this was the first time most participants spoke in public, they did really well. Some of them were very nervous, but they had good organization, citation and structure.” Martinez said.

Students who are interested in joining the speech team got a glimpse of what being a member entails during Speech Night, held on Tuesday in Fireside Hall.