Posted on: March 27, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by John Nash

Moraine Valley speech team members show off the awards they won at the Phi Rho Pi Region IV Speech and Debate Tournament. Front row: Gabe Dunkle, Oswaldo Campo, Lydia Garcia, and Julian Zubrzycki. Back row: Kandyce Swain, Chayse Mueller, Aidan McGuire (captain).

By Nick Stulga, Editor-in-Chief and Nic Kowal, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Moraine Valley’s speech team is heading for nationals after winning regionals at home this weekend. And it hopes to be headed into Moraine history by taking the team’s first back-to-back national wins.

Bethesda, MD is less than a half hour drive from Washington, D.C. It’s also where the MV speech team will be taking a plane in two weeks for the National Phi Rho Pi Speech and Debate Tournament. Last year, the team brought home gold from Nationals in St. Louis, and the hope is for a repeat, though that’s not how head coach John Nash would put it.

“I hope at nationals we accomplish communication that impacts the audience,” Nash said. “I think if we do that, then we’ll line up to receive some kind of trophy or honors for the school, but winning is never the goal. I believe if the team believes in their messages, the trophies will come.”

This weekend, the team won gold in the Phi Rho Pi Region Speech and Debate Tournament, which was hosted at Moraine on Friday and Saturday and included community colleges from a seven-state radius. So far, the MV team has won seven out of its nine tournaments this season.

I believe if the team believes in their messages, the trophies will come.”

MV speech team head coach John Nash

In this weekend’s tournament, team members racked up six gold medals, along with eight silver and four bronze. The 14 events were judged by Moraine alumni and current faculty members. Team member Oswaldo Ocampo won the Don Haggarty Student Fellowship Award, which is voted on by students to determine who best embodies the qualities of forensics.

“I am very honored to get the award,” Ocampo said. “I had a number of competitors come up to me and tell me they convinced their whole team to vote for me, which made me feel special.

“I’ve been doing speech for eight years now, and winning this award has reminded me yet again why I do what I do.”

With this award, Ocampo becomes a nominee for the National Student Fellowship Award.

Team member Kandyce Swain won a gold in Speech to Entertain. During the speech she talked about Gen Z slang for nearly 10 minutes.

Swain was introduced to speech in high school by one of her English teachers, who saw her uncanny knack for writing. She says that unlike a lot of her peers, once she starts writing she can’t stop.

“Not to sound cocky, but I have high hopes and high confidence of what’s about to take place in the next couple weeks,” Swain said.

Team member Chayse Mueller shares the same sentiment regarding nationals. Mueller excels at Dramatic Interpretation, a serious speech with the goal of making the audience feel for the character, acted out without any props.

“Everybody’s really been pulling their weight,” Mueller said. His favorite part of nationals is “seeing all the competitors at their best.”

Related coverage…

This week on the Voices of the Valley podcast, host Aidan McGuire sits down with Moraine’s head forensics coach John Nash to talk about the power of your voice.

During nationals time is of the essence, as going over or under time will lower your rank drastically, according to Swain. The team plans on doing some sightseeing in the D.C. area and possibly getting pictures in front of the White House. 

Nash says his favorite moments are within those photos that accompany the tournaments: “Just that final culmination, that snapshot, is a powerful memory as a coach.” To him these photos show them as something greater than just a team, instead “seeing them being a family.”

That sense of community displays itself throughout the team.

“Despite us all being individually great, we win as a team,” Chayse said. “We win together.”

Team captain Aidan McGuire says this bond is helpful for nationals: “We have a really great team and I think this year especially, everyone seems super committed and dedicated. But even aside from talent, we’re just developing a really close bond as a team which is something really beneficial as we head towards nationals.”

To prepare for nationals, the team will look at their feedback for the region IV tournament and make any necessary adjustments. Members will also practice their speeches daily to get a feel for their event. There will also be one final team event before nationals, a showcase performance on April 3 in building M starting at 6:30 p.m. Here they will practice their speeches as they would in a tournament, but nothing is at stake.

“I always feel proud when the students’ hard work pays off,” Nash said. “I think the reason they do well is because they come together as a family and they work hard to make their messages real and understandable to an audience.”

Phi Rho Pi Region Tournament Results

Overall Top Speaker

  • Oswaldo Ocampo – Gold Medal Winner 
  • Aidan McGuire – Silver Medal Winner 

Individual Awards

  • Aidan McGuire (Mokena) – 1 Gold Medal, 3 Silver Medals  
  • Chayse Mueller (Worth) – 1 Silver Medal, 1 Bronze Medal  
  • Oswaldo Ocampo (Burbank) – 2 Gold Medals, 2 Silver Medals 
  • Kandyce Swain (Blue Island) – 1 Gold Medal, 1 Silver Medal, 1 Bronze Medal  
  • Lydia Garcia (Justice) – 1 Gold Medal, 1 Bronze Medal 
  • Julian Zubrzycki (Chicago) – 1 Silver Medal 
  • Gabe Dunkle (Tinley Park) – 1 Gold Medal, 1 Bronze Medal