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South Jordan Journal

Bingham High’s speech and debate team lives its motto, ready to help one another work hard to win

Dec 01, 2021 02:51PM ● By Julie Slama

The Bingham Miners speech and debate team started off its season, competing well at Westlake High Thunderdome tournament. (Photo courtesy of Bingham High debate team)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Bingham High speech and debate team has a motto.

“Think like a champion; work like an underdog; behave like a friend.”

“We say it every day in class,” senior Audrey Fisher said. 

It has guided the team for years, including this season as the team is off to a strong start. After its first two tournaments, the team amassed three first-place wins, two second places, two third, a fourth and one finalist.

Both tournaments have been in-person, a welcome change after the online tournaments students competed in last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we’re off to a great start because people are motivated to get back into a regular tournament schedule,” Fisher said. “We have a lot of new people this year, which is really great. We are all wanting to help each other and to help the novices learn.”

Junior Ethan Foster said competing online last year was his first experience with debate.

“I learned the basics of how to do debate,” he said. “It made me more motivated to do well in person because it has a different feeling to it. I like the competitive side of debate. I like to strategize better and improve right there and then figure out what I’m going to do to win that round. I wanted to take debate club not only to improve my debate skills, but to find those good conversations that you generally don’t get to have in a normal class.”

Fisher, who chose speech over debate because she likes being able to prepare and work individually, said that last fall, debate was held live virtually whereas speech events were pre-recorded and she could keep polishing it until she was happy to submit it.

“I think that’s the part that made it so difficult –last year it was learning how to memorize your speech without getting it completely perfect because you can like re-record it,” she said, adding that at the end of last year, speeches became live over Zoom. “So, then you had to have your speech memorized, and that may have helped people transition into [in-person] this year where you can’t just restart when you mess up.”

Fisher also said the online tournaments focused more on quality of the video from its sound to any distractions in the background. She also learned that her posters were too light, which made it difficult for online judges to see.

Despite having online tournaments, the Miners, who took second in region last year, had five compete at state: as a sophomore last year, Ella Wallace won original oratory; Audrey finished fourth in oratory; junior Caitlyn Le placed sixth in national exempt; and Foster was seventh in national exempt.

They also had students compete at nationals including junior Maliyah Hutchinson in dramatic interpretation and Fisher in informative speaking.

The Miners are led by new head coach Victoria Riggan, previously their assistant coach, and new assistant coach Mariah Andreason. With more students competing this year, a third debate and speech class section was added to accommodate the 50-member team. They also hold afterschool practices. 

Two years ago, the Miners’ team consisted of 12 members.

“Last year, we did a lot of recruiting down at the middle school and we would go and help at their debate class,” Fisher said.

Those team members, they hope, will help them in this year’s competition.  Some veteran debaters, such as Fisher, are enrolled in more than one class so “with my general knowledge, I am able to help people understand basic concepts and team them with what I’ve learned over the few tournaments.”

That includes researching, rewriting speeches, constructing arguments for and against issues and other preparation the Miners will need for the six tournaments per semester, including region, state and national qualifiers. 

“We’re going to try to win region (and) our aim is to place at state in the top four,” she said, adding they want to improve from the top eight in recent years. “This year, we’re determined to win. We want to get things done and we are wanting to be the best of the best.”

Miners’ results from the Westlake High Thunderdome tournament include senior Maliyah Hutchinson, first place in dramatic interpretation; junior Andrew Shackelford tied first place with junior Elizabeth Tanner in impromptu speaking; senior Audrey Fisher, second place in both original oratory and informative speaking; Andrew and senior Griffin Hill, third place in policy debate; junior Ethan Foster and junior Leslie Kinsey, fourth place in public forum.

At the Viking Clash at Viewmont High School, Fisher took first place in informative speaking and third place in original oratory and sophomore Vayomi Carter was a novice finalist in informative speaking.