On the road: Speech and Debate Team takes top state and national
Steven Haber needed to focus.
After arriving in Indianapolis, IN, for the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament, Haber learned his team’s school bus had been broken into only minutes before he was to compete.
“[The break-in] was right before our finals round,” Haber said. “Everyone was freaking out about the bus, and I’m like, ‘Hey, we still have this finals round that we have to do. I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but can we focus up a little bit?’”
Haber, a double major in Criminal Justice and Communication, and his partner Savannah Price, a Communication major as well, won finals to become the national champions in Junior Parliamentary debate.
Haber said he and his teammates meditated for 30 minutes to help them to prepare for the final round.
“There were nerves going in,” Haber admitted, “but a good speaker does that thing where they turn that nervousness into excitement and they’re able to transfer that.”
Zak Rajpari, Skylar Williams, Danny McQuarters and Nick Pasternak all competed in Open Parliamentary debate, with both teams making it to the top 16.
In Congressional Debate, Curry Coleman earned Presiding Officer and Superior Legislator for his chamber, while Price was named as one of three outstanding legislators in her chamber.
In individual events, Price finished in the top 20 for Persuasive Speaking.
Overall, Cameron placed third in Combined Debate Sweepstakes and eighth in Overall Combined Sweepstakes.
The tournament was the second of two over spring break, the first being the JV Nationals tournament in Hutchinson, KS.
In between tournaments, Sarah Collins, the team’s coach, said they stopped at the St. Louis Zoo, visited the Arch and saw Cats.
At JV Nationals, a tournament for students in their first and second years of competition, Jonathon Good, Amber Smith, Diana Reyes and Danny McQuarters all shared an NPDA national championship title.
In Lincoln-Douglas debate, Smith and McQuarters lasted until the final four, while Reyes made it to quarterfinals.
Students also placed highly in individual events.
In After Dinner Speaking, Good took home a second-place ranking, while Haber finished third.
Haber also finished sixth in Extemporaneous Speaking, while Savannah Sanders finished fifth in Prose Interpretation.
Overall, the team earned third-place in Division 1 Sweepstakes.
Both tournaments served as an appropriate conclusion to an already successful semester for the team.
In late February, the team earned several state champion titles, including: tournament champion in Overall Sweepstakes, in Debate Sweepstakes and Combined, as in Debate and Individual Event, Sweepstakes.
Team members also carved out first place rankings in individual events, such as Sanders and Good, who won Duo Interpretation.
Good also took first place in After Dinner Speaking.
Katelynn Wright earned first place in Informative Speaking, while Williams won first in Impromptu Speaking and Curry Coleman won in Dramatic Interpretation.
Collins attributed the team’s success to their drive to work.
“We have a young group, that, I think, have been motivated to work,” Collins said. “They motivate each other.”
Three team members will graduate in the spring.
Rajpari, one of the members who will not be returning, has been involved in speech and debate since his freshman year in highschool.
“Eight whole years, and I’m happy that I’m done and can move on to coaching and judging,” Rajpari said.
He added he hoped the team will be able to build a reputation for themselves on the debate circuit in future years.
“I just want us to start thriving in Pi Kappa Delta, and start making a name for Cameron University on the national scale,” Rajpari said, “So that, when we go into a round, they say, ‘Oh, we’re going against Cameron. We are probably going to lose.’”
Collins said she plans to focus on more individual events in future semesters.
“I really just want to continue to build a comprehensive program,” Collins shared, “but one that is still beneficial to the students.”
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