Speech and debate teaches students to view the world with an open mind and accept different perspectives.
The USD speech and debate team showcased their pieces in Farber Hall on Oct. 26. USD students, faculty members and families came to see the showcase.
Bailey Quanbeck, a senior and president of the speech and debate team, performed an impromptu and drama piece.
Quanbeck said she enjoys the storytelling aspect of speech and debate.
“I definitely gravitate toward oral interp,” she said. “I am in five or six events and most of them are interp, that is where my heart is.”
Oral interp pieces have more acting involved. A performer is typically taking on a new persona.
“When choosing a speech topic, first and foremost, pick what you are passionate about, change you want to see, issues you want to address,” Quanbeck said.
Quanbeck tries to take her own advice when choosing her speeches.
“One of my pieces is about a child who comes out as genderqueer,” she said. “Many of my friends are part of the LGBQT+ community, so I really want to spread the message of being inclusive.”
First-year Anna Grimsrud, an English education major, said Quanbeck’s drama piece titled “The Pink Unicorn” was her favorite performance of the night.
“The raw honesty of her piece was incredibly moving,” Grimsrud said.
Quanbeck said she’s learned to be open-minded and inclusive through her involvement in debate.
“When I first came to college, I didn’t have many perspectives,” she said. “Speech helps people speak their truth, so I was exposed to more stories and have learned more about myself in the process.”
Quanbeck said she’s excited for the future of the team.
“Our team has 15 members and we only have five or six returning members, so our team is very young,” Quanbeck said. “It’s exciting because we are hoping to grow and get bigger.”
Blake Warner, senior psychology and communication studies major, is one of the club’s vice presidents. Warner performed his drama piece about an individual with Tourette’s syndrome at the showcase.
Warner said he tries to speak about topics he’s passionate about.
“Unspoken voices are one of the best ways to talk about something you’re passionate about,” he said.
Speech and debate has given him a new set of skills with public speaking, Warner said.
“Public speaking is the number one fear and death is number two,” he said. “What we do is literally a superpower – we develop communication skills every week, construct effective speeches that can move and persuade audiences.”
Tristan Chasing Hawk, a junior business administration major, has been involved in speech since his first year when he signed up on a whim.
“It has such a unique storyteller and it is very personal,” Chasing Hawk said. “I really got into it because my school’s plays weren’t the best and it presented an opportunity to grow as a performer.”
Despite all his years in speech, Chasing Hawk said he still gets nervous.
“The use of anxiety to make you a better performer is what sets apart talented speakers,” he said.
Chasing Hawk uses the motto “write what you know” when choosing a speech topic.
“I learned that I don’t know anything. It always astounds me how much I learn in a single weekend,” he said. “The breath of speech is so diverse in topics, it’s incredible how much I learn from watching different modes of storytelling.”
Chasing Hawk said he’s grateful for his teammates.
“Relying on other people has been hard, but coming to USD and having a real team has been a great influence on me as a performer and as a person,” he said.
More than anything, speech gives students a place to express their opinions, Quanbeck said.
“I think one of the most important things is it allows people to express their voices in a safe and welcoming environment,” Quanbeck said. “Our team is like a family, and when we compete we extend that family. I think that is a very powerful thing to be a part of.”