The team celebrates their MSL championship over Zoom.

Elizabeth Keane

After months out of practice due to the coronavirus, the speech team was ready to dive back into their season. They have not wasted one moment of it, already claiming first place for both the MSL and Regional Competitions in the past two weekends. 

“It was kind of cool to see that — even with everything going on — when you really come together as a team and put the work in, you can still succeed,” four-year varsity Speech Team member Erin McDermott said. 

The competitions and practices look a bit different this year being fully remote. However, head coach Michael Piccoli said that the team has still been able to have productive practices and adapt to the Zoom environment.

As they head into the sectional competition this weekend and potentially into the state series the following weekend, McDermott and Piccoli both emphasized that the team’s goals have never been focused on winning. 

“We talk a lot about goals … on the team, and we never really put a place value behind it,” McDermott said. “As a team, our goal is definitely just to make genuine connections and leave people wanting more.”

Piccoli likes to ensure that the team is staying together, and he is particularly proud of how strong the numbers of the program remained this year with 42 members total. Although there are a lot of individual events, Piccoli believes that having such a large team played in their favor at MSL.

“I think that the support network that they’ve created and their ability to boost each other up [is an asset to the team],” Piccoli said. “They’re all there for each other, and they’re all creating this energy that helps them succeed.”

Having a strong support system within the team is important because of the challenges that come with competing remotely. According to McDermott, competitions were difficult to adjust to because she is used to feeding the energy of her pieces off of the audience. Conversely, she is now performing to a screen of Zoom squares.

Nevertheless, she has really enjoyed getting to step into the shoes of her character in her piece for the Dramatic Interpretation category. It is a piece called “‘Till Death,” and it is about a girl who was kidnapped for her whole life without knowing it. 

“I’ve kind of grown to develop that [little kid] character throughout the past three years,” McDermott said. “It takes time to … develop a character to a point where it feels natural to not only the performer but also to the audience members.”

Above all, McDermott is most excited to have the opportunity to compete with her team and keep strengthening the bonds they have together in her final year of the program. 

“The biggest goal that I have for myself is just to stay genuine, convey as many stories and messages as possible and, honestly, just to have fun,” McDermott said. “You want to finish out strong; you want to finish on a high note and remember that you left a good mark and that you had fun while doing it.”