Speech and debate team impresses at virtual tournament


Daniel Hernandez / The Advocate

Aman Butt takes home some awards from the 2020 Northern California Forensics Association Fall Tournament for the CCC Speech and Debate team. Photo of Butt taken from the Talk Hawk Invitational at Los Positas College from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.

By Abigail Manila, Advocate Staff

Despite the recent changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Contra Costa College speech and debate team performed exceptionally well in the first tournament of the season.

The Northern California Forensics Association Fall Tournament No. 1 began Sept. 19 and took place over two days via Zoom teleconference. The team from CCC competed in a variety of events and took home multiple awards.

While typical tournaments take place at a specific location, competitors performed in front of a camera this time.

CCC student Aman Butt won multiple awards for his performance, placing first in the persuasive category and third in the informative speaking category. Additionally, he was a finalist in the impromptu category, ranking within the top six.

Butt’s informative speech educated the audience about the changes in today’s mass manufacturing, earning him third place.

His persuasive speech, which won first place, discussed the misplacement and mistreatment of organs for patients.

“I wanted to bring awareness to an issue that has the ability to affect millions of Americans per year,” Butt said about his award-winning persuasive speech. “You don’t want the organ to be misplaced or mistreated. And if that happens, someone has the ability to lose their life.”

Since the spread of COVID-19 prevented the team from being able to meet in person, they made the decision to hold meetings through video calls using the Zoom application.

Team members practice many aspects of their speeches, such as memorization and structure.

Kaitlan Nguyen, who is set to compete in her first tournament in the next few months, found working online to be a much different experience.

“To help Aman [Butt] and my other teammates prepare, I listened to their speeches and gave them advice. It can be hard to communicate sometimes, and especially when the Wi-Fi cuts out,” she said. “I feel like if we were in person, it would be a lot easier to communicate and stay on track.”

Nineteen schools competed against each other in the tournament. Though most were local schools from Northern California, a few came from separate states such as Oregon and Illinois.

Rather than heading to a specific location, the tournament took place via a Zoom meeting.

Competitors were sorted into separate breakout rooms, where they would perform for judges in front of the camera. Speech and debate coach Steve Robertson said Butt’s success set a positive outlook for the team.

“It’s the opening tournament of the year. I think this sets a good precedent for us to keep working, that we can have success and we stick to it,” said Robertson, who is also a speech teacher at CCC.

Robertson said Butt’s win will inspire the team to work harder and hopefully encourage others to join the team. The team has proved it can have success, even in a time that has changed the way the team operates, Robertson said.

Students interested in joining speech and debate can email the program at [email protected] for more information about the team.

The speech and debate team meets on Tuesdays from 4-5:30 p.m. and is openly recruiting new members.