Only three years for Toppenish Speech and Debate team to be a state powerhouse

Only three years for Toppenish Speech and Debate team to be a state powerhouse.

TOPPENISH, Wash.- Toppenish High School may be known for their athletic programs, but their speech and debate team may have them beat when it comes to the hardware.

However, that wasn't the case when they first started three years ago.

“Once I first joined, I didn't really think we had the potential to grow and be one of the best teams in our region,” junior Salvador Amezcua said. “I was very wrong. Which is a good thing.”

Since then, the team has won more than 50 individual awards and placed second in regionals for the past two years.

When the team first started, they only had one district champ and now they have three.

During a competition, students are judged by their delivery and content of the information.

As they continue to bring in competitive accolades, they said it's also getting them ready for life beyond school as well.

The skills of researching and critical thinking are things people look for in college applications and job interview.

“In an interview, you get asked questions that you may not be prepared for. Just like in our speech and debate tournaments,” junior Jocelyn Santa Cruz said.

Salvador Amezcua has been on the on the team since day one and said he wouldn't be the same person if it weren't for this team.

He said it forced him to go outside of his comfort zone and embrace being in front of a crowd.

“I hated public speaking beforehand. So much so that I would pretty much have a panic attack, but now I look forward to getting in front of people and being the center of attention,” he said.

Whether they're debating among each other or others in the state, they'll be looking to keep excelling at what most people are afraid of...

“The world's greatest fear is getting up in front of people and speaking. They do this for fun,” coach Katie Haynes said.

The Toppenish High School speech and debate team has 13 people competing in the state tournament in Spokane this weekend.

Then later this year, they will be sending five students to compete in nationals all the way in Florida.

Toppenish Speech and Debate Fundraiser

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