Speech and Debate coach looks to inspire and improve individuals’ skills

Now out of his rookie year, speech and debate head coach Brian Gutowski is raising the bar on his team. Although he finds the personal goals of the members to be most important, he is looking to see a stronger team effort in participation, an area that was weak last season.

Last season, the team started off slow, and only few members showed up to each meet. Not many members chose to get up to go to a Saturday meet at 6:15 a.m., and pay for themselves since the club is not funded by the school.

In their first meet of the last season, only one member, Elise Brown, junior, participated for West Linn.

Despite the small participation at each meet, Gutowski was not disappointed with his first season. He said that it was a great way to ease himself into the coaching position and to put a team together. However, this season he is hoping to inspire his team to give more effort, even though he still has a very young team. All of the members, except for Brown and Ben Roth, senior, are in their first season.

Gutowski made it clear to the team this year that they made a commitment; they are expected to participate as much as possible. The team clearly received the message, and the number of West Linn participants in the first two meets this season, which began Oct. 8, has grown to eight members.

Although this season Gutowski has raised the standard for participation for the team, his primary goal remains the same: to improve each member’s public speaking skills. Members have been working to improve in their events by rehearsing prepared material, such as memorized speeches, and by challenging each other with random topics for events such as impromptu. The goal of these exercises is to prepare the members so that they can use their skills live.

“With every tournament our main goal is to improve our skills,” Gutowski said. With each meet he hopes to have a few members win their event, but he mostly focuses on the feedback they receive from judges to help them improve.

Along with the additional effort and improvements the team has been making, they are also competing at a high level. In their last meet on Saturday, Oct. 15, Brown and Madison Henry, junior, placed second in duo interpretation and Daniel Nguyen, sophomore, placed third in impromptu.