Speech and Debate Takes On Yale, Kentucky


During the month of September, members of the CFHS Speech and Debate team travelled to University of Kentucky and Yale University to compete in national tournaments.

Two Public Forum debaters went to Kentucky over the weekend of September 7, while Speech team members attended the tournament at Yale University starting on September 14, facing off against some of the top teams in the country.

“I thought it was really cool how we all came together and kind of helped each other through all the rounds,” said Sasha Haines, junior Public Forum debater. Haines and her partner, junior Maggie Mills, reached the octofinals in the tournament, meaning they were in the top 16 of every team in attendance and received a bid for the Tournament of Champions

Throughout the tournament, the members of the Speech and Debate team had the opportunity to interact with members of other teams from across the country.

Some of these opposing team members were strangers to the debaters, but others were familiar from the pre-season camps that many students attend.

“Always having an awareness of who people are is really beneficial because then you know what you’re up against and if you make friends with that person, often times it can benefit you if you need help on something,” Haines elaborated, emphasizing the cooperative side of the tournaments.

However, Haines was quick to add that going into a round with no idea who your opponent will be can have its own added benefits, as you have no context about the other person’s skill or personality.

In the end, it didn’t matter who they were facing; Haines and Mills experienced great success against nearly all of their opponents.

“I consider their performance to be even better than the results on paper,” stated Public Forum coach Richard Haber.

Mr. Haber emphasized that last year at the same tournament, Mills and Haines went only 2-4. However, in using this as a stepping off point to grow from, they improved throughout the rest of the 2017-18 season, eventually reaching the point they were at in this year’s Kentucky tournament.

Haber also described how high the ceiling is for Mills and Haines, as they now have the whole 2018-19 season ahead of them to grow.

“From the minute they walked in as freshman they have been fearless and have exceeded all expectations…They are quickly becoming two of the best debaters in the country, not just Ohio,” he stated.

While the general feeling after their performance at Kentucky was one of excitement, the debaters themselves emphasized their room for growth.

“Maggie and I were pretty happy with how far we got. However, we were kind of upset with the outcome of the last round we were in just because we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to and as we thought we could,” Haines described.

Overall, the Kentucky tournament marked a very promising start to the Public Forum team’s season.

Concurrently, the Speech team members also experienced great success at the Yale tournament. Juniors Robert Snider, Molly Miller, Mary Frances Mahoney, Claire Lordan and Jillian Shulman all attended this tournament to compete in Speech categories.

“Everyone felt like they needed to step up their game because it was Yale,” said Snider, a member of Humorous Interpretation.

The Yale tournament also featured the best and the brightest from across the country, but the participants mostly used it as a gauge for their scripts.

In the Humorous Interpretation category, participants choose an existing story, such as a film or book, and cut it down and edit it to fit within a certain time frame.

“The good thing about the critiques that all of us got was that they were very specific so we have things that we can change. The judges feedback was very pointed and helpful,” elaborated Snider.

The speech members worked on their scripts for several weeks going into the Yale tournament, but it would be their first time performing in front of judges.

The debut was a key moment for many of the speech students, as it would give them an indication of how their humour is coming across.

“It’s the first time with this script so we don’t know how people are going to react to it,” said Snider, “but ready to get feedback on it so we don’t have to be nervous anymore.”

Specifically, Snider felt that he got some really productive feedback that will help refine his script.

“I need to be more decisive when I’m deciding what goes into my script. Every single time I had to rush to get everything in within the time limit, so that’s something to work on,” admitted Snider.

However, overall, he felt that it was a really good experience. Not only was the tournament extremely constructive, but it also gave members a chance to some more intense competition than they would see in the state circuit.

“Different areas of the country have different styles of how they do the category so kinda see what they look for, especially on a national level, is very helpful,” Snider concluded, echoing the sentiments of all the national participants sent by our Chagrin team.