Tournament ignites passionate speeches, informative dialogue

Dentistry major Samantha Garcia receives an award during the speech and debate department’s two-round tournament at Fireside Hall on Nov. 14.

By Gabriel Quiroz, Advocate Staff

In an event that most people would deem nerve-racking, for students competing in a public speech tournament, the experience happened to be quite a bit different from those expectations.

The Speech and Debate department held a two-round tournament Nov. 14 from 3 – 6 p.m. which began in Fireside Hall and continued in classrooms across the Contra Costa College campus.

Many of the first-time students competing in the tournament expressed their fears and concerns about what they thought would be facing.

Competitors were met with something slightly less fear-inducing and a lot more empowering.

The students chose topics that were close to home for them, their community and families.

Choices ranged from personal issues such as a little girl facing and overcoming troubles in her life, or community problems like the “bystander effect” and how it can be detrimental to an individual’s life and safety..

Fireside hall was filled with students well before registration began at 3 p.m., with many of them chatting to one another while laughing and smiling.

It seemed that they had all been well prepared for what they were about to do.

Upon entering, the students were given the itinerary for the event and what classroom they would be competing in to begin round 1 of their 2-round exercise.

Many of the students that participated in the tournament heard about it from their speech or English professors, some of the teachers offered incentives for extra credit and others were encouraged based on their skills in class, while some for the impact of their topics.

Ockemia Kates-Bean is a student in Carver’s Speech 120 class, she said, he told the class that they would receive double credit if they participated and an automatic A on the final if they won first place in any of the three categories of the tournament.

Kates-Bean did an oral speech titled “A Little Girl’s Courage” about a girl who lost her mother at a very young age, faced many troubles, but ultimately ended up finding her voice through those struggles.

“I was extremely nervous and had never competed in a speech tournament before,” Kates-Bean said.

She continued to say that speech helps her a lot in her career as she is a life coach, motivational speaker, and an author.

Round 2 of the tournament began with students returning to Fireside Hall to double-check where they were competing and some students angry over what time the pizza would arrive.

Muang Saephan enrolled in Speech 120 and three other classes at CCC to meet her prerequisite requirement for Dental Hygiene transfer requirements at UC Berkeley.

She said, “I had never competed in a speech tournament before. I was nervous about my speech but wanted to face my fears.”

She thought she was going to be competing in front of a huge audience but was ultimately met with a few fellow competitors and a judge.

Muang said, “It was a good experience and got me out of my comfort zone.”

She was encouraged by Speech professor Rachel Dwiggins-Beeler to enter the tournament because of her informative speech about the bystander effect, which is a psychological phenomenon that states that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when people are present.

Muangs example of the bystander effect was the stabbing of 28-year-old Kitty Genovese outside of her apartment witnessed or heard by over 30 people in New York.

Muang said her original topic choice was palm reading, but upon learning about the bystander effect, she decided to change it because of the important nature of the topic.

Among the competitors were judges who were currently or previously in Speech or English classes, trying to join, or were part of the Speech and Debate team at CCC.

Johanna Arrioliga a speech and communications graduate was one of those judges.

Arrioliga said, “I was a Liberal Arts and English major but fell in love with speech after taking one of the classes.”

She also talked about how speech is helping her work towards a career in real estate and insurance, which she hopes will aid her in giving back to the community.

Many of the students chose to use their platform in the tournament to talk about something important to them and Caden Cotton-Blake did the same but with some pivotal exceptions.

Caden showed up to the tournament in a suit and dress shoes which seemed to immediately impress his judges, as well as an air of confidence that not everyone carried so well.

Caden did a persuasive speech about film ratings and how they are very outdated in a time when you can easily see the same movie online without any of the restrictions that a theater puts on people under the age of 17.

Caden was very confident from beginning to the end of his speech, showing he was passionate about his own independence and seeing the films he wanted to see how he wanted to see them.

After the final speeches were given students returned to Fireside Hall for the awards ceremony and the coveted pizza.

All three of the previously mentioned competitors received awards.

Kates-Bean received first place in the oral speech category, Muang received second place in the persuasive category and Caden won first place in the same category.

Speech is often wrongfully seen as something you must get through and not something to be enjoyed. It showed that speech can be a tremendous platform for someone to express their concerns, overcome fears and inform others about important topics that others may not be aware of.