Reconnecting through debate

Speech and Debate competes at first in-person tournament since pandemic.


Jaime Jazo

Speech and Debate engages in team bonding activities between rounds. Team member and sophomore Alexander Roman celebrates as they win the round of Uno.

Jaime Jazo, Features Editor

On Saturday, September 25, 2021, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) Speech and Debate team competed in their first in-person tournament in approximately a year and a half. Tournament 1C was held at Helix Charter High School. 

Speech and Debate President Abby Roman was ecstatic about being given the opportunity to compete in person again. According to Roman, she missed being able to talk with her teammates between rounds about how they think they performed. This tournament gave her and every one part of the team a chance to bond. 

“The thing that I love the most about in-person tournaments is reconnecting with the team. I definitely felt that there was a disconnect between members on the team last year just because we weren’t able to get that in-person experience,” Roman said. “That’s something we’re getting back this year so I’m really happy and grateful for that.”

For Speech and Debate Vice President Giselle Geering, observing growth within her mentees was not as easily noticeable given online tournaments. Although, now that the team competed at their first in-person tournament, that growth is more easily detected.

“It makes me feel really happy because I joined Speech and Debate to become a better speaker, but being a mentor has helped me share what I’ve learned, [such as] the confidence and speaking abilities I’ve gained. It was difficult last year because I never met some mentees in person; it was hard to get in contact with them [because] they weren’t responsive sometimes,” Geering said.

However, accompanied by the return to in-person tournaments, a few challenges plagued the Speech and Debate team. Given that 1C was hosted during Fall break, some members decided not to attend the tournament which resulted in a poor turnout for BVH, according to Geering. 

“I was a little disappointed that we don’t have a lot of participants, but I’m happy that people who are competing are here and they showed up and they’re ready to debate,” Geering said.

Seeing that this was the first in-person tournament for novices, new members of the team, and a couple of varsity members, veterans of Speech and Debate, there was a shared sentiment of fear going into the tournament. But, Roman, a fan of the 1984 film Karate Kid, motivated her teammates by quoting main character Daniel LaRusso’s sensei, Mr. Miyagi. 

“I was talking to different members of the team and they were really terrified to debate in person and lose to their opponent. So, I told them that Speech and Debate isn’t about winning,” Roman said. “Regardless, losing to your opponent is okay, but losing to fear isn’t; I took that from Mr. Miyagi.”

This piece was updated on Oct. 14, 2021.