The five members of the Yuba College Speech Team, along with their speech coach, won a total of 11 medals at the Paul Winters Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament, hosted November 7 through 9 at University of the Pacific.
The tournament is one of the largest in the region, attracting 58 colleges and universities from all over the United States.
Advanced student awards went to David Black and Varun Aery, while novice awards went to Sheila Kirn, Victor Taibi, and Talia Helder.
Black and Aery took first place in Dramatic Duo. Black, who had also won two medals in the highest level of competition at Santa Rosa in October, also took second place in Oral Interpretation of Literature and third place in Poetry Interpretation, while Aery earned fourth place in Oral Interpretation of Literature.
Both Black and Aery have qualified to participate in tournaments at the national level.
“We have really high hopes about going to nationals in April,” said speech coach Suzanne Ruckle, who is in her fourteenth year as speech coach. “We’re really excited about it.”
Ruckle received third place in Best Community College Division Speech Coach.
As for the other members of the team, Sheila Kirn took first place in Poetry Interpretation and third place in Oral Interpretation of Literature, Victor Taibi took fourth place in Persuasive Speaking and fourth place in Poetry Interpretation, while Talia Helder took second place in Prose Interpretation in the Novice division.
The Yuba College Speech Team is a part of the NCFA, or Northern California Forensics Association. The association’s jurisdiction covers all colleges and universities between the Southern Oregon areas down to Fresno. The organization puts on local tournaments that then progress to state and national tournaments.
There are three levels of competition starting at Novice, progressing to Junior and finally ending at Open, the highest level of competition.
Being on the team requires enrollment in Speech 4R, which is a 3-unit course offering a grade based primarily on participation, including work put in during class such as brainstorming topics, performing and rehearsing.
Overlooked by some people is the fact that once part of the Speech Team, students are part of advanced intercollegiate competition, just as if they were on a college athletic team. The season includes the Fall and Spring semesters, with the Spring mainly devoted toward preparation and practice for competition in the Fall.
Speech tournaments are comparable to any form of advanced athletic competition, with its “players” doing everything they can to be prepared.
“Memorization is most important,” said Black. “Team members must prep themselves to connect with the audience, analyze every sentence of their speech and practice every aspect of what they need to do to impress the audience.”
There are two categories in which the Yuba College team participates. The first are platform events, which are basically individual speeches. The second event is Dramatic Interpretation of Literature, in which participants act out components of poetry, prose, drama, and a combination of all of these.
“It’s like being in a drama club,” Aery explained.
Performing drama can be difficult for the members of team. Unlike actors in a play who have costars to work with, those participating in the Dramatic Interpretation of Literature category must put on a one-man show. They must display knowledge of postures and have good transitions between characters.
The Speech Team offers a fun environment which allows its members to mature and exercise skills that can be used in every aspect of life from casual to professional. The experience can be fun; performing in front of an audience that has its full attention on you gives a rush unlike any other.
“The ability to speak publicly allows you to change and advocate for society, as well as make life better for respective minorities,” stated Aery.
The team is always looking for new members to expand their positive influence. Everyone on the team has a fun, positive, and considerate attitude.
“Everyone helps out,” says Sheila Kirn about her speech teammates. “If they weren’t my teammates I wouldn’t be as interested.”
The Speech Team also hopes to put on a presentation during the Spring semester, which David Black assured will “make people laugh and cry.”
The Yuba College Speech Team is doing great things and deserves recognition. Keep your eyes open for presentation during the Spring semester and national competition in April.