Speaking on speech and debate

Corbin Atchley, freshman, explains the Speech and Debate club


Garrett Arendt

The Speech and Debate club has 20—25 people. The club meets every Tuesday and Thursday in A201.

Almost a century ago, a public speaking league was formed to motivate high school students to partake in speech and debate. Speech and debate is a competitive sport that combines public speaking with fact-based arguments and competitors are given a topic and compete in front of a panel of judges. Corbin Atchley, freshman, joined the Speech and Debate club at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season. 

[Garrett Arendt]: Why did you decide to join speech and debate?

[Corbin Atchley]: I was not sure which club I wanted to join. I felt that my public speaking skills and my writing skills were definitely subpar, and I wanted to improve them a little bit. So I was thinking I might as well give it a shot. It definitely has improved my public speaking skills and  writing skills in general. 

[GA]: What are the main tournaments you compete in?

[CA]: We compete in University Of Oregon (UO) and district tournaments. Districts are the final event [we] compete in.

[GA]: Do you have any upcoming tournaments?

[CA]: We are  in the offseason, so there are not any events happening right now. There are right now 20—25 people in the club. However, because we’re in the offseason, practices are optional. Districts were about a month ago, and that was the final tournament we had. The offseason lasts for about three [or] four months for the entire year, and it usually starts at the end of March.

[GA]: How do you feel about the tournaments?

[CA]: I personally really enjoy them, and you definitely have to enjoy the tournaments because you are waking up at four [or] five in the morning, and you’re there for 12—14 hours. It’s a big time commitment, and those are on weekends. It’s really rough but it is so much fun. 

[GA]: What are your goals in the tournaments?

[CA]: Obviously, you want to win. You want to get that reward, but also to learn and to improve your skills, because I feel that it’s always a good tournament if you learn something new, and you can use it in future tournaments.

[GA]: What are the changes that have happened in the club recently?

[CA]: One of the biggest changes is the way we structured the club. Obviously, people are going to be responsible for social media, there’s a team captain role. Implementing these roles and making them actually have a purpose was the biggest change. Right now, we’re still trying to get fundraising and stuff back down. So now our practice on Tuesday has become more of a business day, while Thursday is our practice day. 

[GA]: How do these changes affect the club?

[CA]: I would say that it’s a benefit to the club, [because] having fundraising is really important. Also one of our roles is an event coordinator, and so let’s say we want to go bowling as a club, we have people that are able to set it up. I think all the changes thus far have been positive, as well as the structure has really just been better for everyone.

[GA]: Do you agree or disagree with the changes? Why?

[CA]: I agree, because it lets people get leadership roles, which are amazing on resumes, and the structure is very important. Like I said earlier, having been able to fundraise is super important. It’s not mandatory either, and it’s just really beneficial.

[GA]: What do these changes do for the future of the club?

[CA]: In the future, [the club] will definitely have more [funding]. One of the things we can do is  overnight trips, we can allow financial support for the people who aren’t able to pay for or afford the trip. We can also pay for snacks, so instead of having to pay for our own snacks and share them, we can instead have a big table of snacks during rounds. I personally think it’s great.

[GA]: Any other additional comments or thoughts?

[CA]: Speech and debate is a really good way to benefit your speaking skills and become more sociable as a person, and I really think you should participate. It’s genuinely a really good experience, and you will enjoy it even if you are doubtful. It can be easy or hard, but it really depends on you because there are so many different events you can participate in.

Speech and debate allows students to learn in a competitive environment, while also letting students get experience in leadership and fundraising. Students who participate in it can go on to do collegiate speech and debate. The team practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays in A201 after school. Currently the team is in their offseason, but Atchley will resume with the team in the fall.