Speech and debate bring home success to represent Plano

The team competed at the Texas Forensic Association Qualifying Tournament

Rose Wright, Staff Writer

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     The school’s speech and debate teams competed in the Texas Forensic Association (TFA) Qualifying Tournament, held at the UT Austin campus, where the successful team scored new additions to their state qualifiers.

     “We had many juniors, even sophomores and freshmen who made the semifinals in their events, and I feel like that’s going to have a big and lasting legacy on the team,” senior Rohan Chhaya said.

      The UT Austin Tournament was an important event regarding the future of the speech team, as it has the power to grant the team new qualifiers for the TFA Speech Tournament, where last year’s speech team won Sweepstakes. 

     Students who placed in the tournament include Julia Lin, Rohan Chhaya, Isabelle Azmoodeh, and Ben Ai. Other students who accomplished as semifinalists are Jishnu Basu and Anuj Trivedi. 

     “Compared to local tournaments, it’s [UT] definitely a lot bigger, so because of that, the competition is a lot better,” Senior Ben Ai said. 

     The success of the team is not without consequence, as preparation for the team’s multiple tournaments begins early, sometimes before school even starts.

     “Usually I begin writing my speeches over the summer,” junior Julia Lin said. 

     The tournament was much more diverse than previous local competitions, where the speech team typically competes against other schools around the area, such as Flower Mound and Grapevine. 

     “The UT Austin tournament was more state-wide, so there were people from all over like El Paso and San Antonio, and it’s just a really cool experience to see so many different talents,” Lin said. 

     In addition to the diversely-populated competition, the students who participate consistently in the tournament are able to form friendships, and reunite with each other annually as it rolls around each year. 

     “Because of speech, I’ve earned a network of friends from across the nation, so it’s just nice to know people from the national circuit and see them again,” Ai said. 

     Prior to UT’s familiar atmosphere, the speech team competed in other states to gain a little more experience before returning home.

     “Two weeks prior to the [UT] tournament, I competed in the Chicago tournament, which was more national than this one, so I had already done a lot of prep for my events that I used at UT,” Lin said.

     The amount of competitions are endless, as the school’s speech team is traveling close and far to compete in national and state-wide competitions.

     “We’re going to Harvard in February, and then after that we have the actual TFA State Tournament, and then we have districts to qualify for another national tournament,” Lin said.

     The experience of competing at UT gave the speech team new insight into how to perfect their performances, and strengthen their events in general. 

       “UT was a great experience and something that I learned a lot from, I was really able to express myself in my speeches,” Chhaya said.