Speech Team Members Qualify for NCFL Nationals

Danielle Dentremont, Editor-in-Chief

On Feb. 6, Walpole’s speech team competed to qualify for the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Nationals. By the end of the event, senior Nolan Geer, junior Erin Ledwith and sophomores Stephen Bond and Bridget Ryan had advanced to the national competition. This achievement marks the first time a Walpole student has qualified for NCFL Nationals since Tess Lancaster in 2016. 

Like most other events, speech tournaments have been conducted virtually this year, and clearly this change in format has not hindered Walpole’s performance. Geer and Ledwith already have some experience in the national circuit as they both competed in the Sunvitational tournament hosted by a school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida this past January. The NCFL Nationals will be a much larger virtual tournament, but speech team coach Emily Murrary has faith in her team. 

“My goals for nationals have really already been accomplished, it was a huge goal of mine to even qualify to get there and I never thought it would  happen,” Geer said. “To be quite honest, I’m still in shock to this moment that one of my biggest speech goals was accomplished. I will be happy with whatever happens.”

To qualify, Ledwith and Geer competed in the Dramatic Performance category, which consists of a dramatic monologue. As with all speech events, they were judged on basic principles of public speaking as well as characterization, tone, facial expressions, gestures and preparation. Murray frames speech events as “competitive acting.”

“The piece that qualified me for nationals is actually one I had just started recently,” Geer said. “It is about a boy who is depressed and ends up setting himself on fire in a suicide attempt. I have to act as if I am this boy and tell his story through myself. It’s a little intense.”

Bond and Ryan were scored under the same criteria, but competed in the Duo category. In contrast to the seriousness of Geer’s, Bond’s and Ryan’s performance is much more lighthearted and comedic. 

“Nolan and Erin will make you tear up while Stephen and Bridget will have you laughing in stitches,” Murray said. 

Although competitions have been unconventional this year, team members are grateful for this opportunity to perform once again and pleasantly surprised by the success they have had. 

“This year, speech has been much different. The normal thrill of arriving at a tournament and seeing people from other schools is pretty much gone with it all being online. However, some of the magic is still preserved and in every tournament I compete at,” Geer said. “I still get those feelings of butterflies and excitement that I always had. Some people have been drawn away by this change but I have taken this change as a challenge and have tried to do my best regardless of whether we are in person or not.”