BG Speech and Debate Team implements new type of final round

Named the BG Tournament of Mittens, the annual BG Speech and Debate tournament was held on Jan. 10, and is one of the biggest tournaments in the state of Illinois. The tournament accepts winter outerwear donations for the WINGS charity program, which gives those donations to homeless women in need around the Chicagoland area. This year, BG collected over 100 pieces of clothing, despite a smaller turnout than in previous years.

In total, there were 814 entries for individual events at BG. Particularly different for the team this year, was individuals from both Indiana and Michigan attending the tournament. Due to the influx of students attending the tournament, the Speech and Debate team needed many helping hands to guide competitors around BG’s hallways.

20 National Honors Society members volunteered at the tournament for the first time. According to senior Kristen Trendai, a captain of the team, these volunteers assisted in directing competitors around the school and operating the concession stand. Team coach Nick Stockwell says that the increase in assistance, however, was not only with students but also with coaches.

“The tournament serves to teach younger coaches,” Stockwell said. “They learn how to efficiently run a tournament. We teach them how to run Speechwire (the record keeper for speech tournaments) and how to manage both tabs and large groups of kids.”

With new volunteers and coaches, the Speech and Debate team was able also make Illinois speech history. Following the guidelines of speech in Minnesota, the team implemented a “Merit” final round where more competitors were able to experience a final round setting. Since the tournament is very large, there will often be 50 competitors per event, meaning that, without the “Merit” round, only about 12 are able to make it into final rounds. Now, with the new “Merit” final, 18 competitors in most events have the opportunity to get a medal at the end of the day. Stockwell states that BG is the first school in Illinois to implement a third final round. Senior Zack Mellow, another captain of the team, was able to hand out awards at the end of the competition.

“I really liked being behind the scenes,” Mellow said. “It was really cool to help people and see them smile once they received their reward.”