Foothill speech and debate receives awards at UC Berkeley


Emily van Deinse

Over President’s Day weekend, Foothill’s Speech and Debate Team attended the Cal Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament at UC Berkeley. Junior Varsity Public Forum debate duo CJ Haberbush and Spencer Malone “broke” and made it to double octafinals, which means they were one of 32 finalists, whereupon Malone received special recognition with a Best Speaker Award.

To “break,” a team must win the majority of their initial six rounds. Then they go on to speak in more rounds that narrow the competition further and eventually lead to the winning team.


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This event was new to the partners and they felt that they did well. Usually, the two do Parliamentary Debate in which the topic is only provided a few minutes before the round. In Public Forum, the debaters have a few weeks to create a solid case based on facts from sources.

“I think my partner and I did really well in just being confident. This was our first time doing Public Forum. […] I think we did a really good job of just going with it and making the best out of it,” Haberbush said.

Malone said that he and Haberbush “performed to the best of [their] abilities being that it’s a new event.”

Speech and Debate Advisor Jennifer Kindred says that Malone’s speaker award is a “Foothill record.”

I cannot stress enough how significant the award that Spencer Malone won is. The judges considered him the best speaker out of 228 students. […] We have never had a speaker place that highly at such a competitive tournament,” she said.


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Leading up to the event, there was question as to whether or not the team had the funding to go to the tournament. The team had held fundraisers but was still missing a large sum of money. Assembly Bill 1575 prevents the team from requiring payment or excluding students who can’t pay the fees.

According to Kindred, “the total cost of the Berkeley trip was over $8000. This includes a very expensive entry fee, hotel costs for three nights, and the bus.”

“We offset the costs by doing fundraising. Every spring, Festival of Fools brings in $1,000-$1,500 to be used for Berkeley. In January, we made nearly $1,100 at a fundraiser with the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club. And PFSO gives us $1,500 every year to offset the cost of Berkeley. We rely on the generosity of parents to make up the rest,” she said.

“So in this instance, we were saved by the generosity of a small group of parents who paid the lions’ share of the $4,000+ that was not covered by fundraising.”

Despite the tough competition, the team feels that they did well.

Malone said, “Overall, I think the team performed to the best of our abilities based on the situation that we were placed in.”

“Berkeley is pretty tough competition and you know, all things considered, I think we had a pretty good experience,” Haberbush said.

Background Photo Credit: Cecilia Johnston (Used with permission)

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