Speech team wins two firsts at regional contest

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Speech instructor Justin Blacklock delivers a seminar “Say it with Style”: Effective Delivery Feb. 28 in McAllister. Blacklock shows students a variety of physical and vocal exercises to practice before delivering a speech to be more prepared and ease nerves. Lorena Torres Romero

The national competition is April 8-13 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

By Katya Harmel


Liberal arts sophomore Katherine Holloway brought home first place in informative speech and persuasive speech at the Phi Rho Pi competition Feb. 9-11 at Tyler Junior College.

She also won sixth best speaker of competitors from 10 community colleges.

Business freshman Chris Carrillo won second in poetry interpretation, third in dramatic interpretation and persuasion and eighth best speaker overall.  

The third member of this college’s speech team, architecture sophomore Emma James was unable to compete at regionals because she was ill.

Speech Instructor Justin Blacklock, who has been coaching the speech team for three years, said in an interview Feb. 16 that the team began with six members but lost a few because of slipping grades and bad attendance.

Blacklock said all three will compete in the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament April 8-13 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I’m very excited to see what they can do with the talent they have,” he said.

Phi Rho Pi is one of the oldest speech tournaments in the nation with up to 100 colleges competing each year, Blacklock said.

He explained Holloway and James will compete in platform speeches that include persuasive and informative speech.

For the platform events, the contestants must have a speech lasting eight to 10 minutes with strong, fluid content, Blacklock said.

Carrillo will compete in interpretation speeches, which are similar to acting. A contestant is given poetry or a dramatic play script that the contestant is expected to interpret, Blacklock said.

Holloway has been on the speech team one year and said she has been challenged socially and academically.

“It’s challenged me in every way,” she said.

She never thought she would become involved in college activities before joining the team. She said she has learned a great deal about time-management.

“It is extremely time-consuming,” Holloway said.

She explained that she and her teammates spend six hours a week rehearsing for nationals, which excludes the time they prepare at home.

“Then I have two or three other classes, and I work,” she said.

 She said the friendships she has made with people she would not have met otherwise make being on the team enjoyable.

At every competition, she makes connections with students from across the state or nation, which has helped her grow socially.

Although being part of the team has been a challenge, she knows the hard work pays off and said it is preparing her for when she transfers to a four-year institution.

“In doing this, I feel that it has better prepared me for the next chapter of my life,” Holloway said.  She does not know where she will transfer.

It is Carrillo’s first semester on the speech team; however, he said he was involved in speech at Winston Churchill High School.

Carrillo said being on the team is fun and he has enjoyed competing.

“I love it,” he said.

His favorite part about competing is performing. He does not enjoy the amount of research involved in speech writing.

“Once the research is done, it feels like everything paid off when I’m performing,” he said.

Carrillo competes primarily in interpretation events.

“Interpretation is acquiring a piece of literature, analyzing it, and then interpreting the literature in your own way to which you can either perform it or speak it,” he explained.

This is James’ second year on the speech team.

She thinks being on the speech team is enriching because she gets to travel and meet new people while learning.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Her favorite part about competing is how much she gets to learn with each topic she chooses to write about.

“I have (a speech) on bail bonds,” she said. “I did not know a lot about it; now, I’m so much better informed on it.”

She said it takes one week of research and one week of writing to complete a speech; however, she continues to edit until competition day.

Blacklock said his favorite part about coaching them is seeing their growth every day.

His end goal as a coach is to get them accepted at a four-year institution with a scholarship.

The speech team hosts auditions for students every summer and fall and accepts six to seven students a year.

For more information, contact Blacklock at 210-486-0479 or jblacklock@alamo.edu.


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