by Michelle Huang
The weekend of a tournament is a kind of hellish paradise for the average member of LGHS’ Speech and Debate team. After rubbing sleep drowsily from their eyes, dragging themselves out of bed, and running out the door, they hastily rehearse their speeches over and over in the car. Upon arriving at the tournament, they head straight for the judge’s room to check in with Mrs. Smith and coach Alison White. From there, they debate and speak for hours on end, sometimes for two or three days in a row. Although these weekends are incredibly tiring, the satisfaction of doing well or even just making it through the weekend is enough to keep members coming back and signing up for more tournaments.
Speech and Debate is a time-intensive but hugely rewarding activity. Every Tuesday and Thursday, members practice from 7:00 till 9:00 PM, all in preparation for the tournaments. During those practices, students work on everything from writing original speeches to debating current events to researching topics on international affairs.
Although Speech and Debate is a mostly independent activity, the team builds a sense of community because they always manage to find time to help out one another. When a Novice Individual Event tournament was held at LGHS, most of the Varsity team arrived at school at 7:30 AM, the day after Coronation, to help the novices participate in an opportunity that they weren’t able to compete in themselves.
Senior David Zhang certainly believes that the team has succeeded in fostering a sense of team spirit. Zhang states, “This team is really geared to build cooperation, teamwork, and a family attitude. We don’t really put winning as a top priority, and that might not be a bad thing. Even if you don’t win, the fact that you’re going to tournaments with friends has a great team bonding aspect that is really enjoyable.” As a freshman, Zhang joined the team to improve his writing skills and to learn “how to conversation better,” among other aspects. Four years later, he leads the team as a co-captain with senior Jade Corral. Although the role of captain comes with added responsibilities, Zhang believes “becoming a role model for the team has been a really valuable experience. Before, I used to do debate for me, because I liked it. Because I was good at it. Now I do it for the family, the debate team.”
For the coming years, Zhang hopes to start preparing future Speech and Debaters early by establishing a team at the local middle schools. Although the team is currently doing very well, despite the losses of superstars from last year, the team continues to strive for improvement. In the coming months, they will compete at some of the biggest tournaments of the season and hopefully sustain the prestige of the Los Gatos Debate team.