Speech team gains experience

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— They didn't bring home any awards, but four Steamboat Springs High School students returned from Atlanta last week with a wealth of experience after competing in a national speech competition.

Rising juniors Amanda Toy and Kelsey Patterson, 2003 graduates Julia Patterson and Beth Ludwig and Steamboat Springs High School speech team coaches Marty and Shauna Lamansky traveled to the campus of Georgia State University last week for the National Forensics League National Tournament and Congress.

Steady rain and an exhaustive competition schedule were obstacles faced by the teammates throughout the week. Approximately 2,300 students from across the nation competed in the tournament, which featured a variety of speaking events.

Ludwig, who qualified for the competition after four years of participating in speech, competed in the humorous interpretation event. Though she was eliminated during the preliminary rounds, Ludwig advanced through four rounds of her consolation event, prose interpretation.

Julia Patterson competed in Congress, a large event based upon the workings of our federal government's legislative branch. She was a member of one of eight senates.

Patterson's sister, Kelsey, also competed in Congress. Both Pattersons failed to advance past the initial round.

However, Julia Patterson advanced through three rounds of her consolation event, impromptu speaking. Kelsey Patterson advanced through two rounds of the storytelling event.

Toy was eliminated during the preliminary round of the national extemporaneous speaking event. She made it through two rounds of the extemporaneous commentary event.

"Overall we felt it was a pretty successful trip," Marty Lamansky said. "They learned a lot."

The experience that comes from competing in such a large competition will particularly benefit Toy and Kelsey Patterson, who have two years of high school left to participate in speech and earn the right to return to the national event, Lamansky said.

"It's a huge advantage for them to go and see what it's like," he said. "It's intimidating. They'll have a huge advantage if they can get back to it."

Their experience also will benefit fellow speech teammates who didn't travel to Atlanta, Lamansky said. The event can serve as a confidence builder for the entire team, he said.

The end of the tournament marked the official close of the speech team's season. The team will begin to practice in October in preparation for its first competitions of the 2003-04 year in November.

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