Three speech and debate members qualify for State Tournament


Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

Ela Yasa

Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press
(Left to right) Junior Fidelity Ballmer, senior Ben Limpich, junior Khalia Hartung-Dallas all qualified for the State speech and debate tournament. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

This month the speech and debate team competed at the Speech and Debate State Qualification Tournaments. Three members qualified to move on to the State Tournament.

There were three tournaments in total; debate, congress, and individual events.

The tournaments were held at Oaks Christian, La Reina, and Burbank, high school respectively.

Many competitive speech and debate teams from the Tri County Forensics League competed in the tournaments to gain a spot at the State Tournament.

The State Qualifications had several rounds in which competitors either debated or gave speeches.

Teams who missed or lost two rounds were automatically disqualified, and the top five to seven students in each event were chosen to compete at the State Tournament.

Juniors Fidelity Ballmer and Khaila Hartung-Dallas competed in the public forum category as partners and qualified for the State Tournament.

Hartung-Dallas explained the process of a public forum debate.

“Public forum is a partnered debate that requires a case for each side of the argument to be prepped before hand. The topics are usually politically based and the debates are judged by facts and logic.”

Ballmer expressed how she felt when she was competing.

“In the debates themselves, you kind of get in the zone. You definitely have that anxiousness and all that terror the whole day, about whether or not you’re going to qualify for state.”

“But once you’re actually debating, it’s kind of like everything’s gone and you’re just flying through it, because it helps you forget everything else that’s going on and just get into one flow and one thing.”

Hartung-Dallas described the anxiousness she felt during the tournament.

“I wanted to qualify for state more than anything, it’s been our goal since the beginning of the year, but, there were quite a few times when I thought that we weren’t going to make it. The competition was tough and the stress levels were really high.”


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Hartung-Dallas expressed her excitement at Ballmer and her qualifying for the state tournament.

“It feels amazing to have qualified for the state tournament. Fid and I have put so much time and energy into debate these past three years and we really wanted to qualify more than anything this year.”

Senior Ben Limpich also qualified for the State Tournament, winning second place in Original Oratory.

Original Oratory is a competition in which the competitors write a ten-minute scripted event about a topic of their choosing.

Limpich described how he felt throughout the tournament.

“Besides my semi-final round, I felt pretty calm. At my semi-final round I got nervous […] and the nerves got to me a little bit. But otherwise I felt very calm and confident and I liked that my speech was creative and that most people hadn’t thought of the subject.”

“It had a lot of jokes in it and people laughed at it and usually when people started laughing at the jokes I felt a lot better.”

Limpich described how he felt when he found out he had qualified for the State Tournament.

“It feels really great. It was actually quite scary at first, because the way they choose the winners is they count all the people who are in the final round, and then it’s the last two who are up on the stage and getting awards.”

“It’s very dramatized, but it was very fun because I had only qualified one other time when I was a sophomore, and it’s nice to know that my senior year I get to go.”

Speech and debate members described the overall feeling of the tournament.

“The state qualifying tournament was insanely stressful and competitive. Everyone there wants to go to state just as much as you do and they’re ready to fight. It was all very intense,” Hartung-Dallas said.

Ballmer described the competitive atmosphere at the tournament.

“It was tense, but it was a lot of fun. I went to state and state qualification last year and I think state qualifiers are more tense than the state tournament itself.”

“People want to do well at state qualifiers more than they do at state, because once you get to state it’s kind of like ‘yeah we did it! we got here!’ but it’s almost like getting to state is the big deal, which makes the state qualifying tournament really hard.”

Members expressed their appreciation for their speech and debate coach Jennifer Kindred.

“Mrs. Kindred has done so much this year to support us and keep the team going. I am endlessly grateful for the amount of time that she has put into dealing with us and supporting us,” Hartung-Dallas said.

“A million times over, she constantly helped me with my Original Oratory, she is an incredibly supportive person, she’s helped me since I was a freshman,” Limpich said.

“And even though I had never done a scripted event before, she was incredibly helpful in helping me not only get my script approved but also in improving my writing, the way I performed, and with everything else- incredibly helpful. She’s just wonderful.”

Speech and debate members expressed their appreciation for the team’s support.

“The team has always been there for everyone else and our team especially this year has been really supportive and we all got really close, and they became my main group of friends too,” Ballmer said.

“We all became actual close friends of each other instead of just a group of people that hangs out only at tournaments.”

“The environment on the speech and debate team is wonderful, and I think that having so much support from our teammates was really fantastic,” Hartung-Dallas said.

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