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Be it a casual con­ver­sation with friends in the cafe­teria or a pre­sen­tation given in class, speaking plays an intricate role in everyday life.
Those Hillsdale stu­dents on debate, forensics, and mock trial teams are actively working to sharpen their public speaking skills while at Hillsdale.
“You are going to need to speak in public at some point, regardless of your job,” said senior mock trial captain Philip Ham­mersley. “Be it com­mu­ni­cating with your co-workers or boss, you will need to be able to artic­ulate your ideas. Com­pet­itive speaking allows you to gain expe­rience in this valuable skill.”
Apart from gaining expe­rience in speaking to an audience, com­pet­itive speaking allows you to learn how to speak under pressure.
“It really is tough,” said senior second-year forensics captain Brandon Butz. “You’re going to come up against people that have rad­i­cally dif­ferent views than you do, and Hillsdale kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. This means we have to go out there and fight for what we believe in.”
Unlike com­pet­itive speaking at many other col­leges, the main goal for these stu­dents is not simply winning.
“Our team mantra is ‘Truth and Com­mu­ni­cation,’ and we really want to per­petuate that,” Butz said. “As Hillsdale College stu­dents we’re learning all of these dif­ferent things about our foun­da­tions as a country and being good leaders. So instead of treating this like a game, we’re going to use it as a chance to sharpen our skills in deliv­ering the truth.”
Just because the main goal isn’t victory, does not mean that Hillsdale com­pet­itive speaking does not enjoy its fair share of it. All three teams are having extremely suc­cessful seasons, including a mock trial team that is in the midst of the most suc­cessful season in Hillsdale history.
“We went 8 – 0 last weekend, and that has never hap­pened before,” Ham­mersley said.
For Hillsdale com­pet­itive speakers, this success is the result of hard work throughout the entire school year.
“For [forensics] we begin prepping over the summer and begin com­peting in early Sep­tember, and then we compete throughout the rest of the year,” Assistant Director of Forensics and Debate Matthew Warner said. “This year our final tour­nament is March 21.”
For these stu­dents par­tic­i­pating in com­pet­itive speaking at Hillsdale, it’s about more than speaking expe­rience and tro­phies to fill their mantel.
“All of the com­pet­itive speaking teams are more than just an extra-cur­ricular. Rather, it is a com­munity,” Ham­mersley said. “Therefore it isn’t so much of a burden as it is some­thing fun to do. I def­i­nitely feel that anybody that has time should try it out.”
All three teams are now focusing on their post-season runs, and there is no lack of optimism among their ranks.
“We want to win nationals,” Ham­mersley said. “It’s pretty simple.”