Speech tackles national qualifiers


By Mike Stanford, editor-in-chief
Trembling, junior Emily Lasky walked out of her final round of Informative Speaking at the Speech and Debate Association National Qualifiers on March 5 deep in turmoil. After delivering what she considered to be her best speech ever in the second round, she stumbled through the introduction and conclusion during finals.
When the awards ceremony arrived, the tournament officials called the seven competitors of Informative Speaking to the front of the room to read results. To Lasky’s surprise, they announced she was one of the top three finishers, meaning she qualified for nationals.
“When I heard my name announced, it took me a second to let that all sink in because I had such low expectations going into it,” Lasky said. “That moment — when they said, ‘These are your national qualifiers — all my hard work I put in throughout the season … felt like it paid off, and I’ve never been prouder in my speech career.”
Lasky is one of 12 Prospect students who qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama from June 19-23 (see “March to Birmingham” for the other qualifiers). The qualifying event comes after a third place finish at the IHSA tournament, and the national series is entirely separate from IHSA competition.
According to head coach Jon Kaminsky, this difference manifests itself in how the team has to prepare differently. Activities such as show choir and spring sports have intensified, so the coaches and students had to navigate conflicts. At one point, associate principal and assistant coach Scott McDermott even used a Hersey classroom at 7:30 a.m. to work with students before a show choir competition.
Another way the team did prepared was relying on peer coaching from seniors Jimmy McDermott, Ben Marshall and Rhegan Graham as well as junior Molly McDermott. Kaminsky believes the Molly, Graham and Marshall’s assistance was especially helpful when they attended the 12-hour competition despite automatically qualifying based on their finishes at nationals last year.
Lasky agrees that team support was crucial this past weekend, especially when her teammates consoled her after she thought she tanked her final round. She hopes this atmosphere will lead to momentum as they prepare for the national tournament in June.
According to Kaminsky, nationals is the team’s most unpredictable competitions. There are over 200 students in each event, and the judges come from across the country. Nevertheless, the team will begin practicing again in earnest after AP testing, and the teamwork to this point is an accomplishment of its own in Kaminsky’s eyes.
“At least with the kids I worked with, the amount of onus that was placed upon them and the success they had with it was absolutely immense,” Kaminsky said.
March to Birmingham
The following students qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Alabama in June:
Senior Rhegan Graham — Informative Speaking
Senior Micki Smolenski — Informative Speaking
Junior Emily Lasky — Informative Speaking
Senior Jimmy McDermott — Original Oratory
Sophomore Delia Langefeld — Original Oratory
Senior John Zach and sophomore Katie Jordan — Duo Interpretation
Senior Ben Marshall and junior Molly McDermott — Duo Interpretation
Senior Abby Grott — Dramatic Interpretation
Junior Keilyn Howard — Program Oral Interpretation
Junior Kamila Cwanek  — Program Oral Interpretation