Speech and debate team starts the new season with a win

Saddleback student, Kate Cohee, will compete at the AFA speech and debate tournament after her qualifying win at Tabor-Venitsky. Elika Bathaee/Lariat

The Saddleback College speech and debate team takes home second place at the Tabor-Venitsky tournament, along with individual qualifications made by returning student members

Five Saddleback students making up the speech and debate team led multiple wins during the annual Tabor-Venitsky Championship tournament hosted by Cerritos College from Feb. 12-14 in Norwalk, California. The competition invited students from all undergraduate programs, specifically including entries from freshman to senior level. Nonetheless, the Saddleback speech and debate team took second place in a round called Limited Entry Sweepstakes, charged head-on by veterans Kate Cohee and Josh Teincuff.

Unlike other competitions conducted in the past, this year’s Tabor-Venitsky tournament commenced online through the streaming platform, Jitsi. Competitors were given a link to a waiting room that allowed judges to enter and evaluate their improvised or prepared communication strategies for 10 minutes per round.

After an 11 streak victory combined across three fall regional tournaments in 2020, Teincuff placed third in Open Extemporaneous Speaking. Cohee secured another first-place triumph in Open Impromptu Speaking during the first speech and debate match of the season. However, the two returning team members have each qualified for an event at American Forensic Association and the National Forensic Association national championship tournaments held in April.

“We are thrilled with the team’s success!” states Larry Radden, coach for the Saddleback Speech and Debate team. “Kate and Josh are doing great and we have several new recruits who are about to join them with successes of their own at upcoming tournaments. Expect big things from our team.”

The tournament encompassed 16 California schools over a three-day period. However, the speech and debate team participated in a range of events on Saturday, Feb. 13. Cohee qualified for the national competition after over six years of experience leading up to the day. The competitive atmosphere and high-stakes pressure of the final rounds is one she is used to yet, her drive for public speaking keeps her in check.

“It never fails to give me butterflies,” Cohee said. “I put down two solid rounds in the preliminary rounds and was pleased to see that I qualified for the finals for my favorite event, Impromptu Speaking.”

The category entails a vigorous seven minutes to formulate and present a speech after receiving three quotes on various discussion topics with only a singular notecard as a point of reference. Cohee, champion and political science major, prepared a monologue that not only won her first place but solidified her spot as a representative for Saddleback College at the AFA National Tournament. She stated that teamwork throughout those time-crunch events makes all the difference between downfall and glory – for the few rounds that are not based on individual competition.

“I couldn’t have done it without the Saddleback coaching staff, who is always there to watch me run my speeches and coach me,” Cohee said. “A team is more than one person, and Saddleback’s team really encompasses how much of a group effort success is.”

Look out for tournaments in March as the Saddleback speech and debate team continues to strive through and prosper into the new spring season.