COVID-19 vs Speech and Debate

Speech and Debate continues to prove these athletes won’t be stopped by anything and that includes COVID-19.

Curt Brooks, Staff Writer

They may not wear shoulder pads or dribble down the court, but they compete for Grossmont just like any other sport.

The Grossmont Speech and Debate team proves there are many different forms to an athlete. Nothing will stop these Griffins from soaring through competition. It’s a true war of words, but this time it was through a computer monitor to adhere to social distancing. This team shows true grit, as adversity won’t hinder any form of competition for Grossmont’s debate team.

Competitive speech and debate, or “forensics,” is the art of argumentative discourse. Grossmont not only competes with other two-year colleges, but four-year colleges as well. Due to COVID-19, the national and state tournaments were canceled and the spring 2020 team suffered for it. 

“In the summer, I went to a coaches’ faculty meeting about how are we going to do this; by the summer and starting in the fall we have been able to do almost everything we had did before, all through Zoom now,” said Professor Roxanne Tuscany, the director of the Speech and Debate team.

Tuscany went on to explain how even though they were able to continue competing, they were competing less than usual. But hope is not lost as the team continues to strive and compete, even while having to do it in a somewhat informal fashion. 

Normally, these events are in person with a team of judges in front of a live audience, like any other form of competition. Though the interactive element of a room full of people is lost, the war of words is still there in the hearts of every competitor.

Regular competitor Josias Guerra has been competing for quite some time with multiple competitions under his belt. Guerra has not let COVID dull his need to compete and showcase what he can do.

“COVID has made the competition scene very different,” Guerra said. “So, before COVID we were very comfortable and practiced being in front of a group of people and an audience, and we were practicing having that sort of stage area allotted for us.”

The loss of the in-person aspect of the events gave rise to a new challenge: preparing in different ways to convey your words through a monitor. There’s a good chance many people have found some form of disconnect just having an ordinary discussion, let alone trying to articulate their thoughts on a competition stage.

A couple key notes were how the teachers responded to the change when it came to coaching in a new element and how well they adjusted to the new way of competing through monitors.

“Seeing teachers really try to make an effort to make students feel like not much has changed even though so much has changed is really good,” Guerra said.

If the team can overcome these hurdles and excel the way they have, you can count on them doing really well on the competition scene. 

In the words of Tuscany, “Speech and Debate is one of the most challenging experiences for many students, but also probably one of the best experiences you can ever have in college.”

This team has shown that even in the face of a pandemic they can still find some form of normalcy, even when the world hasn’t quite figured out what the new normal is yet.