By Marcus Camacho
The speech and debate team won the national championship title in its division at the Phi Rho Pi National Speaking Tournament for community colleges in Cleveland, Ohio last week.
The tournament was a six-day event that started April 7 and ended on April 12.
“It was an amazing experience. We not only were able to have the gratification of winning the award but we were able to make history and hold a new record for other schools and other teams to beat,” East Los Angeles College Speech Team Member Liliana Dung said.
The team faced 28 teams from its division and 20 teams from the next division above to win 14 high-level awards.
“I was elated. I’ve been doing this activity for 21 years and in all my 21 years, I’ve never either coached or been on a team where every student on the team broke (won an award) at a national championship tournament,’ Co-Director and full-time professor Ryan Smith said.
“It’s almost unheard of. It’s what people in the speech community refer to as a school break or team break, meaning that every one on the team broke one event.”
The team’s score were made up by the students individual performances at all of their speaking events.
The team had enough points to not only win in its division but it had enough to beat the upper division.
Colleges from multiple of states, nearly 600 students, participated in the national tournament.
The team’s budget allowed for eight out of 30 students on the team to go to the competition. Other teams had around 30 students each.
“Our team is competitive based so to know that there are more schools and more people to compete with amplifies our competition vote and makes us go directly into having to win and achieve,” Dung said.
The National Student Fellowship Award was given to speech team president Israel Beltran. The award is special because he was selected by the students and coaches from the entire southern California region.
The award was a two-part award that goes to the competitor who showed great sportsmanship and for contributing the most points to the team.
Along with that award, Beltran won gold in poetry, and in program oral interpretation. Beltran and team vice president Gordon Ip got bronze in dramatic duo interpretation.
Thomas Martinez and Justyne Gutierrez placed silver in dramatic duo.
Chloe Romero placed gold in dramatic interpretation, silver in poetry and bronze with partner Dung in dramatic duo.
Esteban Terrazas placed silver in poetry.
Terrazas placed bronze in dramatic interpretation and in dramatic duo with partner Steven Fuel.
The team placed gold in individual events–Hindman Division and overall–Hindman Division.
The team was thankful to the Associated Student Union at ELAC for their financial support.
ASU helped fund part the trip to nationals that went to the plane tickets, hotel and food. The other part of funding was provided by sources known only to the directors.
The team spent countless hours of instruction, training and mentoring from the coaches and the directors to improve their skills and win awards.
The team’s awards will be presented to the college’s administration in the next couple of days.