Speech and Debate kicks off

Speech and Debate gets ready for another year of competitions.



Head Coach Megan Johnson talks to new members, at room 232 during the first debate meeting.

Mason Wang, Broadcast Copy Editor

Under the sweltering heat and humidity, about 40 of eager freshmen and sophomores, speech students and seasoned varsity debaters stayed after the two-hour early release to get information about the upcoming speech and debate season.

The meeting started off with some information about upcoming tournaments. Then, speech students, first-year debaters, and varsity debaters separated to have their first practices.

Speech and new forms of debate

Starting this year, the speech and debate club is trying to gather people for new events.

“This year, we are trying to get some public forum teams up and running, and recruit more speech team members,” Head Coach Megan Johnson said.

Head Coach Megan Johnson

For the speech team and first-year debate team, the meeting was “designed to get initial contact information, set a meeting time and get to know each other.”

Johnson hopes for a promising year among the fresh novice debaters.

“We usually do quite well, and our success often culminates in a good performance in the spring at the Great Midwestern Novice Debate Championships,” Johnson said.

Tough but educational: Second-year policy debaters

For about a dozen Sophomore and Junior second year debaters, the meeting marked the beginning of a tough year of debate.

“There is rarely a JV division at tournaments, so even though sophomores are only in their second year of debate, they have to compete against people who are in their third and fourth years of debate,” Johnson said.

Lydia Guo ’19

Lydia Guo ‘19 chooses to focus on sharpening her skills, not on performance.

“I hope to overall improve as a debater, specifically at finding evidence and speaking with more clarity . . . by the help of my seniors and practice,” Guo said. “I’m nervous about having to debate at a higher level and against juniors and seniors. However, I believe that with experience and hard work, I will be able to overcome this difference.”

“It can be hard to understand that even if you aren’t winning a lot of rounds, you are learning and growing,” Johnson said.

Varsity Policy Debate Goals

Meanwhile, returning debaters have a lot of work to do before their first tournaments.

After the meeting, about 20 policy debaters stayed around to sharpen their skills, led by Team Captain Ethan Trepka ‘18.

Ethan Trepka ’18

“We focused on what our plans were for the season, logistics and talking about preparing for tournaments,” Trepka said.

The sophomores, juniors and seniors have a number of ambitious goals, from short-term to long-term goals.

“Right now, we are working on preseason prep and preparing for the first tournament at West Des Moines Valley at the end of September,” Trepka said. Five teams will go to the Valley Tournament on September 23-25. Last year, West won this tournament.

Both Johnson and Trepka agree on the common goal of winning the State debate Tournament in March, and qualifying for the national tournament.

“The goals for team this season are to get better at debate, win the state debate tournament and qualify teams to the national debate tournament,” said Trepka.

Johnson agrees, and believes it’s possible.

“The upperclassmen are talented – we have a number of great debaters this year,” said Johnson, citing the fact that West has won the state debate tournament 6 out of the last 7 years.

And it’s not too late to join debate. Talk to Mrs. Johnson in room 232.