New Speech and Debate members compete in annual Novice Tournament


(Photo/ @walpolespeechanddebate

Liam McDonough, Opinion Editor

On Saturday, Oct. 23, Walpole’s Speech and Debate Club competed in the annual Massachusetts Speech and Debate Novice Tournament. First year speech and debate students from all over the state competed against each other in a variety of events, but this year was unlike any other, as students from different high schools could not meet up due to COVID-19 restrictions. Students had to compete virtually, and they were unable to be immersed into the usual social setting that Speech and Debate brings.

This year’s Novice Tournament still brought back excitement to many, including Walpole Speech and Debate President, Emily Murray. In 2021, a total of 15 new students joined Speech and Debate, and Murray was more than pleased with the results. 

“I was pumped to have this kind of showing because usually it’s smaller than that,” Murray said. With all these new members of the team, Murray is hopeful that Speech and Debate can continue to grow as a club. “I think word has gone out, and people are recruiting their friends.” 

Although Walpole was unable to see other schools while competing, Murray still felt that it was necessary to have them meet up as a club on Saturday. On the day of the tournament, most of the team showed up, whether they were novices competing or varsity members helping out and cheering on their teammates.  

“I felt that it was more important to boost the team morale, and have novices get a little bit of a feel for what it was really like to compete in a tournament,” Murray said. 

In a normal year, the team would have been tasked with hosting the tournament, and the news that it was going to be virtual came as bitter-sweet for Murray. 

“Personally, I’m more relieved [that Walpole does not have to host it] because it is a lot of work, but I want to host again because it makes it a lot easier for novices to have their first tournament be at Walpole.” 

Students can participate in speech events, which involve events such as impromptu, duo and playwriting. Members can also participate in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, a face to face debate that utilizes students ability to think and speak on the fly. Murray believes that both activities will help a student be more outgoing and become confident in themselves when they have to put themselves in those situations.

“With both Speech and Debate, you have to be able to speak publicly, being comfortable to talk in front of a group.” 

As the start of the Speech and Debate season kicks off, Murray is filled with optimism, hoping that the team will continue to do well and gradually improve over time. 

“I would love for us to place at states again. This past year we placed 9th, so let’s place eighth, it’s all about taking baby steps.”

The team looks to improve with their upcoming tournaments on Nov. 11th and Nov. 20th.