Speech and Debate State Qualifiers during Covid-19


Ava Flores

Speech and Debate members compete over Zoom. Photo by Ava Flores.

Charlotte Snow, Reporter

The CHS Speech and Debate team has had great success this school year. Despite the many challenges this year has brought, they’ve managed to take first in almost every tournament they’ve competed in, upholding their title as one of the best teams in the nation. Following a very successful League Tournament Sweepstakes in which the team took first in both Novice and Varsity, students had to quickly prepare for State Qualifiers, a three week long tournament to decide who advances to compete on a state level.

“Before the tournament I would make sure my cases were ready, record any speeches, do any last minute prep, and go to practices to make sure I felt prepared and confident,” sophomore Ava Flores said.

The many different events require a lot of preparation. Competitors often have to give ten minute speeches backed by pages and pages of evidence. They must deliver these speeches flawlessly and try to convince the audience of their point. Aside from that they must also debate other top notch competitors for first place.

“I prepared for the tournament by doing a lot of research. My partner and I like to be super prepped going into debate, and that was our biggest focus,” sophomore and finalist Raina Smith said. “We had over 50 pages of research and evidence for Public Forum, and were really hoping that would help us in the tournament.”

This year’s competition was more complicated than past events, with Covid-19 stopping in person tournaments. Normally students would travel to different schools and mingle with other debaters before rounds to get to know each other better. Now everything is digital and many feel sad over the missed opportunities to meet peers.

“Last year, I made so many fun memories at in person tournaments and always had a great time getting to travel, but this year unfortunately that is much different,” Flores said. “But overall, I got used to it. After several tournaments it became more normal to me and I was able to adapt much better to the new ‘style’ of tournaments.”

Still, good things have come out of the 2020-2021 Speech and Debate season. Aside from their numerous wins, the team has gained some skilled new members through their introductory classes and middle school visits.

“This year I improved a lot not only with my speaking but also my overall knowledge on current events and how to prepare for these speech and debate events,” freshman Romie Coffler said. “It’s been a great year and I’ve met so many people and made so many friends.”

This year I improved a lot not only with my speaking but also my overall knowledge on current events

— Romie Coffler (9)

Now that State Qualifiers are over, students have a brief break before it’s time to tackle the State Championships and National Qualifiers, which many of them have qualified for. With finalists in almost every event at this year’s State Qualifiers, CHS has successfully taken another first and been named Grand Sweepstakes Speech Champion and Debate Champion upon winning the State Qualifier Trifecta. On top of that, senior Arjun Venkatesh has been named San Diego Competitor of the Year. 

“Arjun is an outstanding all-around competitor and leader. He has consistently worked to improve his own skills as well as shown competitive integrity and work ethic,” Speech and Debate coach Minnia Curtis said. “He is the most deserving of San Diego Competitor of the year.”

With the tournament ending after a stressful three weeks, Carlsbad has once again taken many wins and is already planning for their state competition. In addition to state, they’re also discussing which events to compete in for national qualifiers.

“I’m just glad we made it a couple rounds in Public Forum, however, I did semi in both my speech events and finalled in Original Advocacy, which is what I really want to go to state in,” Smith said.

With many more challenging tournaments ahead, our team has a lot cut out for them.

“I’ve had some good tournaments and some not so good, but they are always fun,” Flores said. “I wouldn’t change anything even if I could.”