Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs High School senior Lauren Tait said participating on the speech team has helped her perform well in the school plays.
This year, Tait said she is going to focus on more than the performing arts in her speech competitions.
She said she is preparing to compete in the original oratory event during the team's first competition Saturday in Craig.
Tait said all of the team members are memorizing and writing their speeches, and practicing techniques needed for competition.
"I just love the whole activity; it gives students such a level of achievement and confidence," speech coach Shauna Lamansky said.
Team members practice two to three times a week and start practice about a month before competition.
The speech team provides a setting for a sharing of ideas and the study of language, Lamansky said.
There are several events students have to chose from, including interpretation in drama, humor and poetry, policy debate, regional oratory and impromptu speeches. Lamansky said students could compete in a variety of events depending on their interests.
"It's a different kind of person drawn to speech because people fear public speaking," Lamansky said.
She said some students join the team to overcome shyness while other students love to be the center of attention.
The team lost a number of seniors and is starting the year with a fairly new group.
"We have a bunch of new freshmen which is kind of exciting," Lamansky said.
The remaining seniors on the team are trying to make the most of their final year.
"This is the year I need to excel," Tait said.
She said the seniors are trying to push themselves and are entering new and challenging events.
She said attending drama and speech practices for her final year in high school is sad at times, but gives her greater appreciation of high school events and opportunities she still has.
Lamansky said the team members are a diverse group with many additional interests.
She said speech has a longer season than most traditional high school sports.
"It's a long commitment for high school students," she said.
Lamansky said the team is ready to begin the season and excited to host the National Qualifying Student Congress competition in the spring where students write bills and resolutions and debate them.