Speech and Debate: Talk to the Screen
For the last three years, the Woodcrest Christian Speech and Debate team has been growing under the leadership of head coach and English teacher Austin Wright. Students have benefitted from learning how to respond under pressure and how to critically articulate their points of view. And just like any good debater knows, always be ready for that surprise piece of information that causes you to think on your feet and formulate a response on-the-fly.
For this year’s speech and debate team students, the revelation that has challenged them most is debating every tournament virtually. “As hard as it has been to lose that face-to-face connection you have with in-person debates,” says Mr. Wright, “there have been some positives to debating online and we’ve been able to take advantage of those.”
What has benefitted the team the most has been the flexibility virtual tournaments hold for competition. “We are now able to compete against teams from all over the state of California rather than just locally,” he says. “We’ve been able to have weekday competitions, there’s obviously been less time and money spent traveling to various tournaments, and we’ve been able to compete more often—now every 2 weeks instead of every 6 weeks. So far, we’ve placed in the top five at every tournament this year.”
High school junior and debate team member, Daniel Jackson says, “The competition has been greater and more challenging which makes it even more fun.” Daniel placed 4nd in Apologetics recently at an online tournament.
Looking ahead, the team of 20+ students is excited about the new challenges. A new assistant coach has joined the team. Mr. Braden Sapp (currently Woodcrest Christian’s middle school band director) has a love for speech and debate and has been brought on to help provide more one-on-one coaching as the team continues to grow.
Both coaches know the value of being a good communicator and are eager to share those skills. Wright says, “I love how what is learned in debate helps prepare our students for life by building their confidence and teaching them that what they say matters and can have an impact.”