Speech Transitions Computers into Prep Rooms
By Jana Riggins, Speech and Debate Director | Friday, May 25, 2012 11:36 AM
Half of the state speech competitors used computers in the prep room.
Photo by Jeanne Acton
State Meet 2012 is now in the history books. For speech, it truly was historical as the final rounds of Cross-Examination Debate were held at the Texas State Capitol and computers were allowed in the Extemporaneous Speaking preparation room for the first time.
Speech teams embraced the new computer rule. The draw room statistics for the preliminary rounds were 31 computers in Informative and 29 in Persuasive, so 50 percent of state competitors moved to electronic files this season. Out of the 60 contestants advancing to finals in both speaking contests (6 per conference, 30 per contest), 41 opted for electronic files.
Contest officials were pleased with the smooth transition. Prep room monitor Darrin Ard shared these thoughts. “Originally, I opposed the use of computers in the prep room. I was never shy about my opinion because I believe so much in the ethical aspects of the contest, and I thought computer use was inviting unethical behavior. However, after seeing it in action this year, I have been won over. Computers definitely made load-in and load-out so much easier, and the students were using the computers so effectively. “
Other changes at State included our location. The speaking contests were all hosted in the same building, unlike past years when the interpretation and extemporaneous speaking contests were scheduled in Thompson Conference Center and Lincoln Douglas Debate was across campus in the University Teaching Center. The previous situation presented some challenges in getting contestants who were double-qualified in Extemporaneous Speaking and LD Debate to roll call on time, and to assign judges to both events. Having all the speaking contests in one building was definitely positive.
For many years, the Thompson Center has been packed with multiple contests, congesting the hallways and causing us to expand to a three-day meet. Hosting the academic meet later in May following the completion of standardized testing and the university class schedule allowed UIL to secure additional campus buildings.
The University Teaching Center building is home to Cross-Examination Debate State Meet, a familiar location for speech coaches, so it gave a comfortable feel to the contests this May. Unlike TCC, the building has enough large lecture rooms for us to provide every conference with equal facilities for the preliminary and final rounds.
UIL rules allow and encourage public audiences, and each of the UTC rooms held more than 100 spectators to view the competition.
With additional campus buildings available to house other academic contests, the contests hallways were quiet and conducive to fewer distractions. The 40 students serving on the Speech Honor Crew coordinated by Phyllis Tucker did an outstanding job of maintaining professional decorum in each of the contest rooms. Thank you for your excellent work.
Our long-time state contest directors ably administered the contests: Charlene Strickland from Hardin-Simmons University (extemporaneous speaking), Wayne Kraemer from Texas State University (LD Debate) and M’Liss Hindman from Tyler Junior College (oral interpretation). Jeremy Hutchins assisted Professor Kraemer in LD Debate. Professor Strickland had a team of Dwight Mutchler, Ann Shofner and Darrin Ard in the Informative/Persuasive preparation room. Invaluable to our tournament staff was Cat Carroll who worked alongside Trudy Richards to coordinate the judges and Lynn Elms, former regional director at Texas Tech University, who stepped in to play a critical role in the tabulation room.
Special thanks to Cat and Phyllis who came in early prior to the start of the tournament to assist us in the office with final preparations. They were a godsend. And we couldn’t run the tournament without our UIL staff that serve as our tabulation crew. Many of them had just worked track and field the weekend before but were willing to spend another two days in the speech tab room. I can’t thank them adequately for their team attitude.
The speech and debate community creates a loyalty unequaled and that is proven every year when your former competitors contact me to volunteer their help for state meet. It is grueling, non-glamorous work and they know it. However, their undying devotion to forensics is evident as they come back to assist. Thank you to Shelby Randolph (former state medalist and member of the Lampasas HS speech squad) and Katie Wilson (former competitor for Harmony HS). Shelby not only worked state meet but also volunteered her time each Wednesday during the spring semester to assist us in the office.
Last but far from least, I would like to recognize the interns in speech and debate who work all year to support the endeavors of our program. They come to work every day excited about their contribution to making UIL Speech and Debate the best in the nation. They work from sunup to sundown at our events, doing all the behind-the-scenes details that make the tournament seamless. I cannot say enough about Marilyn Myrick and Robey Holland. You are a joy to have on staff. Well done, my awesome interns!
Congratulations to the state champions and to the State Meet Speech Team Champions who captured top honors: Farwell HS, 1A, White Oak HS, 2A, Paris: North Lamar HS, 3A (overall champion), Trophy Club: Nelson HS, 4A and Dulles HS, 5A.
Congratulations and thanks to you coaches, as well, who make UIL what it is. I encourage you to take time this summer to reflect on the impact you have over students’ lives. In the midst of the memories of bleary-eyes and tired minds from weekend after weekend of tournaments, long bus rides home from Saturdays spent with your students rather than relaxing with your family, late Sunday nights prepping for Monday morning classes, please also remember what a difference you make!