By Christopher Hartwell @SILIENCESEEN
The Las Positas Talk Hawks soared to the occasion in San Francisco this past weekend during the San Francisco Golden Gate Opener Forensics Tournament. The team did quite well, receiving numerous trophies and winning the first place for the community college division tournament sweepstakes.
The two days of competition were fierce, and there were some doubts about how the team would perform. Jim Dobson, a coach for the team and a professor at Las Positas, regarding his thoughts before the awards ceremony took place said,
“What we want to have is a 50 percent break percentage for local tournaments.
“We want to do that or better. Yesterday, we had a lot of breaks[aka wins], but it wasn’t there. So, we are going to have this kind of thing going on, right? We are going to be writing down all of our events, we’re circling what has broken, and what didn’t so we broke 5 of the 7 in this pattern, which that’s great, right?
“This one is 6 of 16, so we dropped 10 events in this pattern which is not very good. So, we’re looking at a total of 11 breaks, so then we start thinking, maybe we’re not going to win this thing, and we want to win!”
For those who are not involved in these high energy forensic competitions, there are a few terms which are used. “Break” means that a contestant made it to the final round, and will be competing against others who did just as well.
There are two different levels of competition, Novice, for less experienced speakers, and Open for the more skilled competitors. There are also two separate patterns, A and B, which will be repeated several times throughout the day.
Pattern A tends to have events such as informative speeches and Prose interpretation, along with many other speech events, while pattern B tends to have events like Persuasive speeches, Communication Analysis, and Duo Interpretation as well as much more.
Competitors must go to their assigned locations to perform for judges, and if they have more than one event in a single pattern, they must go to each location for each judge, perform and compete, and it all must happen in the time allotted for each pattern, which tends to be around 75 minutes.
At most tournaments, there are two rounds for each pattern, meaning there are 6 rounds if finals are included, and this was no exception for this tournament. Starting at 8:30 a.m. on September 25th, the rounds were conducted and the ending awards ceremony did not take place until after 5:30 p.m. that evening.
When talking to Teddy Albiniak, the Director of Forensics at San Francisco State University on Sept. 25, Albiniak said “As one of the services we provide to the community, we host one of the opening competitions. So, we invite teams from all over the country, but in particular the western region and around northern California We host three days of forensics competition. We are at the tail end of three days. There are upwards of 10 to 12 different kinds of competitions that people are involved in.”
This year, the Las Positas Talk Hawks did quite well at this event.
On Saturday, September 24, 2016, There were a lot of “breaks” for the team. Vincent Walker won first in communication analysis second in after dinner speaking, and second in persuasive speech.
Danielle Leedemen took first in after dinner speaking, second in communication analysis, and fourth in duo interpretation section.
Phill Bannister placed fourth in duo interpretation section. Triston Rendon took fourth in after dinner speaking.
Maddy Whittaker won fifth in informative speaking. Allison Almaraz got first place in after dinner speaking. Kane Raie placed first in Prose. Amber Averill won fifth in persuasive speaking. Kelsey Pettis took third in extemporaneous speaking. Christian Balderas won second place in open informative speaking.
Then the team proceeded to repeat their good performance the following day, competing once again on September 25th. Vincent Walker placed first in the open division in both after dinner speaking and with informative speech.
Walker also placed second in communication analysis, second in persuasive speaking, and sixth in prose interpretation. Danielle Leedeman placed second in after dinner speaking, third in communication analysis, and fourth in duo interpretation.
Phill Bannister placed third in after dinner speaking and fourth in duo interpretation. Triston Rendon placed first in Prose interpretation and third in after dinner speaking. Maddison Whittaker placed first in informative speaking
Allison Almaraz got first place in after dinner speaking and fourth place in prose interpretation.
Kane Raie received second place in prose interpretation and seventh place in after dinner speaking.
Amber Averill placed first in persuasive speaking. Kelsey Pettis came in sixth place for extemporaneous speaking. Christian Balderas got fifth place with informative speech. Alex Martinez placed fourth in both informative speech and after dinner speaking.
The team placed first against all competing community colleges, receiving 166 points, beating out San Joaquin Delta College who earned 151 points, Hartnell who with 99 points, Solano college with 58 points, Santa Rosa Community College with 57 points and Chabot College with 44 points.
Even the 4 year universities had difficulty keeping up, with only Concordia University at Irvine racking up more points than Las Positas.
Though this team could easily stay at the level they were at and continue to dominate, Jim Dobson, their coach, saw this team adding more into their roster to compete with even the best of colleges.
Dobson said “We are going to keep adding events to each tournament, and we already have a pretty sizeable entry when it comes to this tournament. We’re dwarfed in terms of size by Concordia Irvine. They have lot more, they are a 4 year. Chico has more entries than we do, and Delta has way more entries than we did.”
Those events made all the difference in the world, but despite all that was said, this was not really a numbers game. Danielle Leedeman, a team member on the Las Positas Talk Hawks said “80 percent of my speeches have to do with women’s rights.
“I’m just bringing more issues about women, because nobody knows about the pink tax. Nobody knows that women’s products are priced higher than men’s. I like picking topics that not a lot of people know about, and then by telling more people, they know about it, then it will probably become less of a problem the more that people know about it.”
Other team members also had their own views of what they felt about public speaking.
Alejandro Martinez, a third year biology major at LPC said “With anything perfect, practice makes perfect, so the better you do things over a period of time, it gets better and better.”
When asked what was important with these events, Martinez stated “Preparation and being loose and having a good time. One of my teammates told me you can be as prepared and know your speech by heart, but if you can’t deliver as it fits your own person, like some kind of robot, it means nothing. With after dinner speeches, I think I’m pretty funny, so I may as well just try it out.”
Triston Rendon, a third year Business major at LPC, in regards to the most important aspect of this event said that “Just having fun and really getting to experience this public speaking thing, especially with the after dinner events, getting to find your own personality that maybe you haven’t shown as exaggerated as you can with these events.”
“With prose, I’m trying out something new that I’ve never done before but it really ends up being fun. My after dinner speech started as a persuasive speech, but my coach told me that it would be really funny if we threw in some jokes, and it turned out pretty well, so I’m glad we went that route!”
A highlight of the of the day included a speech by Vincent Walker, who spoke about supersonic flight and discussed new technology to get passengers to different places at high rates of speeds, including space planes as one potential option.
Another consisted of a speech about soldiers overcoming stigma and trauma while going on a run together. And finally a prose speech about a mother with cancer by Kane Raie.
Even judges were impressed. Michelle Brownlee, a judge and coach at the event, said “I was a competitor for many years, and this is my first year as a coach. It’s really nice in the first big (competition) of the year to see people, especially novices, really getting in there and really excited and putting in the work.”
Winning is nice, but that is not what it is all about.
Micaela Chapa from Solano college did parley, a dramatic interpretation, and when asked if they thought they were going to win, they said “I know I’m doing my best and that’s all that really matters”
For it all, the competitors were more than happy to be competing, which was exemplified by former LPC speech team member and LPC alumni Jennie De Rose, who is now At Chico. De Rose said “It’s good to be back in it, it’s good to be back in the season, getting things going here at the golden gate opener.”
Even Talk Hawk coach Jim Dobson, who had his birthday at the event said, “Yeah, there’s no other place I’d rather be”
Las Positas College took first place sweepstakes, and all the members of the team placed into the finals, winning many trophies and medals along the way.