Speech and Debate successful in the Sunshine State

by Jenna Prather, Staff Reporter

For the first time in the college’s history, the Simpson College Speech and Debate Team claimed the National Overall Team Championship at the country’s largest college speech and debate tournament.
During the week of March 7, the college’s Speech and Debate Team boarded a bus for the long 23-hour ride to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament hosted by the University of Central Florida.
“I was a little nervous,” sophomore Scout Peery said. “This was the first in-person tournament I was doing in a long time and the first national PKD one, so I didn’t know quite what to expect.”
This was the first time since spring 2019 that the Speech and Debate Team was able to travel for an in-person tournament. The last tournament was in New York City.
The event was held between March 9-12, 2022, and 70 colleges and universities of all sizes from across the country competed for the top spot.
“I think we felt really prepared because the regular season had gone exceptionally well for the team,” Spencer Waugh, Instructor of Speech and Debate, said. “I was very pleased for the students. They had the hardware that they had all season, and, for the seniors, that work that they put in the three years leading up to this year definitely paid off.”
Each day was a full schedule that required a lot of work from the students. Some started competing between 7:30-8:00 a.m. and didn’t finish until 8:30 p.m. with short breaks in between for meals.
But it wasn’t all severe, there was some time for fun and games.
“There’s a lot of serious moments, but there was also downtime for them to meet people that they wouldn’t otherwise get to meet, and they have time to laugh and joke around with each other,” Waugh said. “The day before the competition was the day for us to get registered and settled and there were some opening ceremonies. So, this was the day for some students to do a little exploring around Orlando.”
Participating students were also given time to explore the area and make memories together.
“My friend, Kylie, and I decided to use our free day to just kind of relax and get ready for the tournament then go out on the town,” Perry said. “We went to a really cool lunch spot in a café area and then we just sat by the pool, using that warm Florida heat.”
Simpson had won the debate side of the tournament for the last five years, so there was some pressure to be able to pull it off again, but it happened. Making the Storm the national debate champion in five of the six last national tournaments.
Peery came back from the tournament with four titles. Top Superior in Congress, Excellence in Extemporaneous Commentary, Excellence in Discussion and Top Presiding Officer Award. She was also a quarterfinalist in Varsity NFA LD.
“It was a lot of research,” Peery said. “And then for Congress, it comes out with a lot of legislation that we’ll do speeches over, so you already know what you’ll be discussing. So it’s easier to have some understanding of where the debates probably going to go. And then for my other two events, extemp commentary was a pre-recorded video, which I made a speech over, and then for discussion, I did not know exactly what I was walking into.”
“I don’t think people realize that the season starts in August, and this is sort of a cumulating event for the team,” Waugh said.
“We have the same topic the whole year through, so there’s a lot of preparation,” Peery said. “Figuring out which case you want to make and then writing the next strategies.”
Students attend two practices a week, with practices lasting about an hour and a half. Several students also attend weekly individual practices with the coaching staff.
All that preparation paid off with Simpson leaving the tournament with three titles. First in Overall Speech & Debate Team Points, first in Debate Sweepstakes (team points) and fourth in Individual Events (Speech) Sweepstakes (team points).
A full list of the debate results can be found on the Speech and Debate Twitter page @SpeechDebateSC.
“I’m just so proud of their accomplishment because with so many schools there in attendance, we just never know how it’s going to turn out. And this was their best national tournament by far that they’ve ever had,” Waugh said.
Once the excitement wore off, the exhaustion started to set in and by the time they arrived back in Iowa, the whole team was ready for a nap.
“I don’t think anyone talked to each other for two or three days,” Waugh said. “We don’t have practice this week and our season is pretty much done. So, we’re kind of taking the next few days to relax and then we’ll figure out a way to do a team celebration here in the next couple of weeks.”