January 30, 2014
The art of forensics can’t be gleaned from YouTube. The students on Blinn College’s new speech and debate team are quickly realizing that nothing beats the forge of competition.
“The best way to learn speech and debate is to see it in action,” said Kathryn Kelly, Visual & Performing Arts instructor and director of the Speech and Debate Team. “Competition is fierce, so you don’t find many examples on the internet. We’re taking our students on the road because it’s an excellent opportunity for them to develop their skills.”
The team, based on Blinn’s Bryan campus, has trained with Kelly and Assistant Director Betsy Stoltz since launching at the beginning of the Fall semester.
The team’s first tournament was in October, and it hasn’t slowed down since. In mid-November, Blinn hosted a practice tournament that drew more than 100 entries. Blinn’s Joseph Nash placed first in prose and Diane Tran won top honors in informative speaking.
“When I first started I was awful,” Tran said. “I wish I recorded the first time I did impromptu so I could motivate new speakers. I was so afraid of the judgment of being in front of a crowd, but I’ve gotten better with practice.”
Blinn will travel to tournaments at Lone Star College in Houston, Feb. 1-2; Sam Houston State University, Feb. 7-9; and Stephen F. Austin University, March 2-9.
“We’ve been very happy for a first-year program,” Kelly said. “There’s no limit to what our students can do.”
Kelly said the team hopes to compete in Phi Rho Pi’s national forensics tournament for two-year colleges, and has already held its own against top-tier programs such as Rice University and the University of Texas. Four of the nation’s top 20 speech and debate teams call Texas home.
“Most of these schools have been working with their students all summer, starting the day after their last tournament,” Kelly said.
More than 4,000 students are enrolled in Blinn’s Division of Visual & Performing Arts, which offers 51 courses, including architectural design, interior design, drawing, painting, ceramics, digital art, photography, watercolor, music theory, music appreciation, voice study, the Select Choral Ensemble, acting, argumentation, professional speaking and introductory speech.PHOTO – From left: Blinn College’s new speech and debate team is currently preparing for its first competition Feb. 1-2. From left: Haley Fuller, Harry Kamgaing, Diane Tran, Timothy Jackson, Instructor Betsy Stoltz, Eliza Mayr and Kyle Cummins. Photo courtesy of Stuart Morris/Blinn College Photo Club.