Erin Ledwith Qualifies for NSDA Nationals

Walpole Senior will represent Massachusetts in speech nationals this June

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Maggie Mahoney, Assistant Sports Editor

For years, Senior Erin Ledwith has been a prominent member of Walpole High’s Speech and Debate team, competing in a diverse set of categories and placing at nearly every tournament. The now Vice-President of the team proved her talent on Feb. 5, qualifying to represent Massachusetts in Dramatic Interpretation at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) National tournament in Louisville, KY this June. 

Although national competitions are nothing new for Ledwith, who competed in events like the National Catholic Forensics League nationals and Sunvite tournament last year, the NSDA tournament is the biggest stage for speech and debate students in the country. According to the NSDA website, the National Speech and Debate tournament is the largest academic competition in the world with more than 4,500 students vying for a national champion title each year. 

“It is really crazy being able to represent my entire state!” Ledwith said. “From Massachusetts, it will be myself and two other people competing in my event and there is expected to be 300 people competing in that event. It is very exciting to see new pieces and new people at tournaments and now I get to do that at a national level.”

Ledwith’s accomplishments have come at no shortage of hard work throughout the years. The Senior has been practicing her new Dramatic Interpretation piece for weeks while helping her teammates and practicing other pieces. As she competed the piece in numerous competitions in the weeks prior to the qualifying event, Ledwith took the feedback from the judges to improve her piece by adding new movements and enhancing the emotion behind her performance. 

“It has been a dream since my freshman year to qualify for NSDAs, and for it to come true is a wonderful and surreal experience,” said Ledwith. “I started crying when they said my name during the awards ceremony because I was just so excited. My whole family and the team was so proud of me too.”

Looking forward to June, Ledwith is excited for the new experiences competing on such a large stage will bring. Being one of only three Massachusetts students to earn their spot on this stagefor her category makes her accomplishment all the more special as well. After years of competing over zoom, traveling to Kentucky for the tournament adds an extra level of excitement, but the travel is not what Ledwith is most excited for.

“I am most excited to meet people from other states! Speech and Debate kids are some of the nicest kids I’ve met, so I hope to form some great friendships,” Ledwith said. “I’m also excited to show my hard work to a whole new group of people. I am going to give my absolute best at Nationals!”