The University of Indianapolis speech team has competed in four tournaments this semester against teams from around Indiana and surrounding states. Assistant Professor of Communication and speech team coach Rebekah Watson Gaidis said that the team set six goals for themselves for this year.
“We have already met two of them … and three of the goals have almost been completed,” she said.
Some of these goals were specifically set for certain tournaments, and one was to have a good showing at the Owensboro Community College’s invitational speech and debate tournament on Nov. 5. Gaidis said the team definitely met this goal; it won first place overall and almost every member placed in the different events in which they competed in Owensboro.
“So the Owensboro meet, everyone did good,” said junior marketing major and speech team captain Brooke Abbott. “That’s a super-good feeling, having your whole entire team [do well]. I think almost everyone won a trophy, at least, of some sort.”
According to Gaidis, team members do a lot of practicing and preparation for their tournaments and usually spend two to three hours practicing outside of class in a week when they do not have a tournament, and closer to six or eight in a week when they do. But that also depends on how many events they are competing in.
Abbott said the speech team members practice once a week with a coach, as well as in class. They also do peer coaching and practice on their own. There are 14 members on the speech team this semester.
“This year we have six varsity members,” Abbott said. “And so with having a stronger varsity team, we can help [the novice members], because we have a ton of freshmen. And I feel like that’s making our team a whole lot stronger, because we can help them progress, and it doesn’t have to be just the coaches doing it.”
Gaidis said the team was very excited about winning at Owensboro but had to hold it in until they were back on the bus.
“The way speech decorum is much different than at a basketball game,” she said. “At a basketball game, it’s appropriate to yell, scream and carry-on, [but] how you do it in speech is that you’ll be sitting in an auditorium or a large room, like a lecture hall, and when you win a trophy as a team you obviously do not applaud yourself. You stay seated, and everyone applauds you.… So they really couldn’t—until they left that room—be truly joyous.”
Both Abbott and sophomore business management major and public relations officer for the speech team Vanessa Hickman said that once the team members did get on the bus, they were very excited.
“It is great whenever you win the team awards,” Hickman said, “because in speech, sometimes, it can be driven solely by individual awards. But overall when the team wins an award, it’s just really rewarding and really nice that everyone’s individual work is going together. And it shows that it’s really a team event.”
Gaidis said it was nice to be able to see the team’s success two months into the season. She also said that she is proud of them because of the amount of time they have put in and how they give up their Saturdays to compete, and it was nice to see that pay off.
“I was very proud that almost every student on our team walked away with one trophy,” Gaidis said. “What I was most proud of is, as a team, how well we did, because even if a student maybe didn’t win a trophy individually, their points—how they did—can still impact how the team does. I was proud that they were able to come together as a team and win that trophy and walk away feeling proud of themselves.”
Hickman said that this was an important competition for the team.
“This competition [is important] in particular,” she said, “because whenever we go down to Kentucky, we don’t see competitors that we see all the time when we’re in Indiana. So it was really nice to know that we can go up [against] not just Indiana schools.”
The team is looking forward to the statewide tournament next semester and is working hard to prepare for it as well, according to Abbott.
“State is something that, I think, we will be able to compete very well on,” she said. “And I think that we are going to be a very strong team for state next semester.”
UIndy will host the Indiana Forensics Association State Speech & Debate championship tournament on Feb. 18, 2017.
“For our team, it’s [the state tournament that is] really important because we’re hosting our state tournament,” Gaidis said. “But also for them, competitively, that is the last tournament of the season. And after that, it is the national season. That is kind of where we plan on finishing our season.”
The speech team will travel to Butler University for its first competition of next semester on Jan. 14 and 15.