Speaking with purpose

Cannon Falls Speech Team members are working hard as the first tournament quickly approaches.


Cal Vande Hoef

Earlier this year, prospective team members attended a call out meeting to get a taste of speech.

The speech season is back in full swing as the team prepares for another successful season. Earning numerous achievements and a reputable name in past speech seasons, the team works to continue to reach those goals and expectations again this year. 

As the season begins, speechies first work on composing speeches, finding pieces to work with, and learning the fundamental techniques of speech. A typical preseason speech practice is one of three different varieties, depending on the category. On Mondays, the team joins together and listens to everyone’s speeches, allowing students to showcase their speeches and earn criticism from others. In individual practice, speechies have one-on-one sessions with coaches to receive personal advice and instruction. Finally, there are category practices, where speechies join together with other members of their category to rehearse together. As the season progresses, practices change structure as speech students practice more complex speech techniques and develop their material. 

Although the first event is distant, being well-prepared is critical in ensuring the best performance. The way speechies prepare differs depending on the category requirements. Senior Lauren Ritz expresses she has a lot to develop and work on. “For Storytelling, to prepare for the first event we need to tell all 15 stories at least once, write intros for all of the stories, and have enough of a handle on all 15 speeches that we can tell any of them in the round.” While Lauren has multiple stories she needs to work on, other category members, including Junior Grace Miller, have different requirements. “For ER, we need to write intros for each of our stories, which we just started working on. We also need to become more familiar with each of the stories so that we can read them to the best of our abilities in front of a judge, even with minimal preparation.” While Miller and Ritz have multiple stories to prepare, other members may have only one speech that they work on or write. Preparing for competition varies entirely on the competitor’s specialization and category needs. 

Preparing for and anticipating the season’s success, Lauren Ritz shares her goals for the team’s future. “My goals for this year’s season are to improve my character work and hopefully make it to state. Last year I kind of struggled with keeping my characters defined throughout the speech so I want to work on better characterization and more clear lines between my different characters. As for making it to state, that was my favorite part of last year’s speech season, so I would like to repeat that experience my senior year.” Grace Miller shares similar goals, expressing that “My goal is to improve and fine-tune my skills that I have been working on over the last several years” 

This year, one difference following the pandemic years has caused excitement among many members of the team. While the Covid season caused numbers to shrink, this year the team has received many new rookies. With numbers increasing, many new speechies will have the opportunity to learn and improve throughout the season. New speech team members also require more leadership and support from seniors and juniors to guide the new members. 

For rookie speechies, coming into a team with such a high reputation can be extremely nerve wracking. “If I could give one piece of advice for new people in speech, it would just be to stick with it.” says Senior Lauren Ritz when asked for a message to give to younger speech members. “Speech is hard, especially as a young competitor because seniors and sixth graders frequently end up competing against each other in the same round. Getting low ranks can be discouraging, but as you get older and develop more skills, it becomes really rewarding to see self-improvement and start getting better ranks.” Senior Tristian Qualey also tells rookies to “enjoy the season no matter what.” As for junior Grace Miller, she highlights the importance of perseverance, “Speech isn’t for everyone, and if you are struggling in your category, a different one might work better. It does take a lot of work upfront, but it pays off quickly when the competition season begins.” 

The hard work put in during the early season practices fuels the speech team members’ high expectations and goals for the season. With great leadership and commitment, the team’s possibilities are endless as they prepare for the first event on February 4th, a home tournament at Cannon Falls High School.