From black masculinity to diabetes, any topic is fair game for the Saddleback College Speech and Debate team. Lead by Heidi Ochoa, speech instructor and forensics coach, the team consists of 60 students enrolled in the program. Ten of the people in the program are senior competitors while the rest are novices.
According to Ochoa, for students to reach the senior rank, they first start out as novices and gain junior level once they entered a competition. After a year,if the student decides to continue, then the rank of seniority is given.
As for the various topics given during a speech, Saddleback’s team studies topics current in today’s society. Depending on what topic the student decides to discuss, the speeches have to be either an informative speech or a persuasive speech.
Most of the speeches are prepared beforehand and rehearsed prior to a competition, but two of the speeches must be impromptu. When a student prepares for an impromptu speech, a topic is given and then a minute and 30 seconds to two minutes is given for the students to prepare a speech. Six minutes is the maximum amount of time for students to present their impromptu speech.
“Saddleback’s speech and debate team typically does the prepared speeches,” said Ochoa. “It’s easier for the students and it’s also our strongest area.”
The campus is known to be one of the most intellectual during the speech, but the schools rivals are also strong in their respective fields. Rival schools include Orange Coast College, Mt. San Antonio College, Pasadena City College, Moorepark College, and Cal State Long Beach.
Speech competitions are held almost every weekend and while Saddleback used to go to the competitions frequently, the campus attends them at least once to twice a month due to funding. As for the competition locations, the fall semester holds competitions in California, but in the spring semester, the team competes out of state. Last year, it competed in New Orleans, Louisiana but this year it will compete in Connecticut.