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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.”