The Speech Team is Gearing Up For the Season!

Chesterton Speech prepares to begin competing on a weekly basis.

Gigi Hanner

   With the successful first month of debate competition under Chesterton’s belt, it’s time for the other half of the Speech and Debate program to begin their season. Last Saturday, November 13th, the Chesterton Speech team hosted their home tournament right here at CHS. This tournament was a special one because it was the first in-person varsity competition that the team had seen since March 2020.

     In the wake of last season, the team is itching to compete face to face again. (For more information on the format of online tournaments, check out this article about the debate team’s start to the year: Debaters Take Their Podium) After two National Tournaments were done over Zoom, the returning team members cannot wait to get back to the pre-COVID speech competition.

     Head Speech Coach Dakota McCoy is looking forward to a new year of competition. 

     “I would like our team to place in the top 3 at the state tournament. I would also like to see our leaders continue building this team the way they envision it. We’ve gone through a lot of change over the last five years, and I feel like this team is finally becoming the students’, which is always the goal as a coach,” McCoy reflected.

     As for the changes faced in the transition, he said, “Online tournaments require playing to the audience in a different way. Normally, you have the audience in the room and subtleties are easier to pull off. Online, the “little things” don’t always translate well. Fortunately, we’re just focused on the in-person competition this year, if all goes according to plan.” 

     But, in-person competitions do offer one con.

     “I think we’ll all miss the later start times. No bus ride means we can sleep in. This year we’re back to sleepy-eyed Saturday mornings as early as 4am,” McCoy confessed.

     This season’s team, particularly the seniors, has been through a lot the past two seasons. On March 13th, 2020, the Speech State tournament was cancelled the same day the rest of the state shut down. This new, and hopefully regular season, brings a sense of excitement and fear to the team. The Sandscript spoke to a number of the returning varsity members to see how they are feeling about the upcoming year.

Dylan Leavitt: senior

Leavitt finished out her junior season as 6th in the state in Program of Oral Interpretation, and 4th in the state in Humorous Interpretation. At the National Tournament in June, she was a Double-Octo Finalist in Prose, a Quarterfinalist in Original Spoken Word Poetry, and an Octofinalist in Humorous Interpretation.


What are your goals for this upcoming season?

“My goals for this upcoming season are to make it to the state finals, and maybe even win first place at state.”

How do you feel about getting back to in person competition?

“Getting back into in person competition has felt like only a daydream for so long, but to finally have the opportunity is exhilarating.”

What events are you planning on competing in this year?

“I’m planning on competing in Humor, POI, and Info.”

What made you keep doing this throughout high school?

“What made me keep doing speech and debate throughout high school is the platform for advocacy that it has graced me with. In speech and debate, I feel as if I have a safe space to speak openly about issues that I’m passionate about.”

What are you most excited/nervous about?

“What I’m most nervous about is competing in person in front of live judges. Hopefully I won’t get too psyched out.”


Natalie Nuñez: senior

Nuñez finished her junior year season as a double state quarterfinalist in Dramatic Interpretation and Duo Interpretation with her partner Miranda Miller. At the National Tournament, Nuñez and Miller quartered in both Asynchronous and Live Duo. Nuñez additionally was a double-octofinalist in Prose.


What are your goals for this upcoming season?

“My goal for this season is to look back at the end of it with no regrets. I want to be content by the end.”

How do you feel about getting back to in person competition?

“I’m super excited to get back to in person competition this year! It’s what makes speech so special and it’s way more fun to perform in front of a live audience.”

What events are you planning on competing in this year?

“Drama and oratory.”

What made you keep doing this throughout high school?

“The team. I am genuinely friends with my teammates and our close connection motivates you to keep going even when things seem hard.”

What are you most excited/nervous about?

“I’m super excited to see all my competitors that I haven’t seen in years. I’m nervous its going to go by too fast.”


Miranda Miller: senior

In addition to Miller’s accomplishments with Nuñez, the pair were national runners-up at the Catholic National tournament in May. Miller got 6th in Dramatic Interpretation at the state tournament. She double-octofinaled in Prose as well.


What are your goals for this upcoming season?

“I really hope that I can get further at state than I have in previous years.  I also hope that as a team, we can place in the top 3 at state.”

How do you feel about getting back to in-person competition?

“I am really excited to get back to in-person competition! Online it’s a lot harder to connect with your audience and most importantly the judge.  I’m excited to finally be able to see my fellow competitors and see my judges’ reactions to my pieces.”

What events are you planning on competing in this year?

“This year, I plan on competing in Drama and POI.”

What made you keep doing this throughout high school?

“I have stayed in the program because of the people and the competitions.  I love all of the people on the team.  They are all so supportive and truly want you to be successful and have helped me to grow as a person.  Competitions are the highlight of my speech season.  No matter how I do or how the team places, I can always look back on a specific tournament and think about how much fun I had hanging out with my friends and getting to meet so many new people.”

What are you most excited/nervous about?

“I am so excited to jump into the season and get back to competing in person.  I’m a little nervous about how the overall season will turn out because we lost a lot of great competitors this year, but for now I am focused on getting used to competing in front of a real audience again.”


The Sandscript wishes the team good luck on their upcoming season. The speech team is known for representing Chesterton very well, and the return of in-person tournaments will hopefully lead to another successful year!