The Forensic Speech team of Las Positas College, the Talk Hawks, have been successful this semester. The team is coached by Jim Dobson and Natalie Kellner.
Alexis Bondarenko, a member of the Talk Hawks, was not initially interested in joining the team. She heard about Talk Hawks after she took Coach Kellner’s Communications 1 class and was recommended to join the team.
Alexis said, “the main thing that leads us to our success is definitely just our team being a really big family. We support each other, not only through forensics and our events, but we also support each other in academics and our personal life… and having that support system is what really drives our team to success.”
According to Bondarenko, the Talk Hawks have coaching sessions every week, practice their performances beforehand and give each other feedback. This helps them prepare for upcoming events. The team also does vocal and physical warm-ups ahead of the tournaments.
Despite being a first-year member of the team, Bondarenko said the team has a welcoming environment and a good support system, which has helped her feel at home with the team.
“I’m part of the middle college program on campus and I remember being really nervous that I was the youngest one on the team, but they really helped me see my true capabilities. And I’m so lucky to have a great team that boosted my confidence in myself,” said Bondarenko.
According to Bondarenko, victory is not crucial to the team. Instead, the team thinks improvement is more important than a win. “Success on our team is definitely not all about winning,” she said “it’s about improving yourself and becoming better at your speeches and events throughout each tournament. If one member on our team succeeds, then our whole team succeeds.”
There are always obstacles in one’s path to success. Everyone has failed at something, learned from it, and strived for improvement. Bondarenko is no exception.
Bondarenko said, “I guess sometimes we have a little fumble in our speeches every once in a while, but I’d say the biggest thing that I’ve struggled with at the beginning was just overall being confident in myself and not doubting my capabilities.”
With events such as tournaments, which tend to be competitive and can put pressure on some people, Bondarenko tells us how she handles the pressure.
“I’d say the thing that helps me overcome my forensic jitters would definitely just be hanging out with the other teammates during breaks in the middle of the tournaments. They’re all really encouraging and we’re all going through the same experience at the same time, and boosting each other’s confidence definitely helps with overcoming the pressure. I know that no matter what happens in the tournaments, my team’s always going to be there to support me.”
“Having a group that you can go to and feel comfortable with makes the experience even greater,” Bondarenko said. “Our team is really full of super talented people. [We]… all academically excel, but overall, the team is full of really nice people. I’d say that’s what makes the Talk Hawks really special.”
The forensic speech team has many benefits and lessons for its members. In case anyone wants to join or might consider joining the team, Bondarenko highly recommends you do.
Bondarenko said, “First of all, not only can somebody learn about how to improve their public speaking skills, but they really get to find their unique voice and somebody can really learn how to have confidence in themselves. They will find that they are capable of so much more than they have thought. You also learn the value of an amazing team.”
Gibran Beydoun is a staff writer for The Express. Follow him @Gibran580MSCM.