Speech and Debate Team brings home win

Team seizes second consecutive NFA title among California schools

debate masters—From left to right on the top row, Charles Vuong, Katlyn Gonzalez, Eddie Diaz, Charlotte Yang, William Kunkle, David Reyes, Fidencio Jimenez, Richard Hu, Jordyn Alexis and Santiago Lopez with the awards they won at National Forensics Association Tournament. Courtesy of Jedi Curva

By Vicky Nguyen

The East Los Angeles College Speech and Debate Team won their second consecutive community college championship title at the National Forensics Association Tournament in Santa Ana, which ran from April 18-22. At NFA, the team competed against four-year universities as well as other community colleges. They placed second among California schools and 17th in the nation overall.

When the team went up to receive their award during the awards ceremony, the sound was cut on the video recording, because the cheering was so loud.

This win is in addition to their fifth consecutive state championship at the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament in Reno, NV on April 8-13.

However, the team will no longer be competing in the Phi Rho Pi tournament moving forward, choosing to focus solely on NFA, which many members feel to be more prestigious.

“Here at ELAC, we have a great legacy. In order to honor what everyone has done in the past, we’re tired of playing minor league. We want to go major,” said Vice President of Debate William Kunkle.

Kunkle took gold awards in International Public Debate Association style debate, persuasive speaking, extemporaneous speaking, and a silver in informative peaking at Phi Rho Pi.

Richard Hu President of Speech said the Phi Rho Pi competitions focused more on simple subjects and entertainment rather than content.

“Community college speech is more performance-based. It’s more like high school speech. NFA is more cut-throat, more critical,” Hu said.

Hu took gold in Extemporaneous Speaking, bronze in After Dinner Speaking and bronze in Communication Analysis competitions at Phi Rho Pi.

In order to prepare for the more rigorous competitions, Director David Hale began increasing the standards being placed on the students.

“I think a lot of schools won’t put in the extra time and effort to pay attention to the details. Our coaches – we’re going to give them high, critical feedback, and that’s a really tough process,” Hale said. “We have a very rigorous process in place that holds a high standard for what kind of work that’s expected.”

Each student works with individual coaches who give them feedback on their work.

On average, each student works about 10-15 hours each week to perfect their material.

Eddie Diaz, Vice President of Speech, finds the process of getting critical feedback difficult but worthwhile.

“It’s not necessarily a bad feeling. It’s more of like, ‘OK I’ve already overcome this many obstacles; there’s more for me to achieve,’” Diaz Said. “Sometimes, it can hurt. Straight up honesty, it hurts sometimes. But in the end, we all know this is going to improve us. We’re going to keep going.”

Other awards that the team took from Phi Rho Pi competition include a silver in Extemporaneous Speaking and a bronze in Communication Analysis by Fidencio Jimenez, and a bronze in Communication Analysis by Kaitlyn Gonzalez.

Although their fruits of labor could be attributed completely to their intense training, the team also insists their bond with one another is what makes them successful.

“The one that makes us really successful is the way we look at each other, the way we connect as a family. We encourage each other. That’s what makes us thrive the most. We’re there for each other,” Diaz said.

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