Four members of the Mt. Hood Community College Forensics (speech and debate) Team won second place in the Debate Sweepstakes at the 80th Phi Rho Pi National Tournament and community college championships held in Tysons, Va.
MHCC students Sara Cass, Kevin Henderson, Tyler Garcia and Danner Marshall, along with their coach and MHCC Director of Forensics Shannon Valdivia, traveled to Virginia on April 6 to compete in the weeklong speech and debate championships. While there,
they won multiple individual and two-person team awards.
The team of Henderson and Garcia won a gold medal in the tournament’s National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) competition, and the team of Marshall and Henderson won a silver medal after advancing to the final round of the International Public
Debate Association (IPDA) competition. Garcia won a bronze in the tournament’s individual IPDA competition.
On Saturday, April 15, the four students were awarded silver in the Debate Sweepstakes based on points earned by the team’s top three entrants. In total, the team earned 40 points.
“This is the second time in the past three years that MHCC has advanced multiple IPDA and NPDA teams at the national tournament,” said Valdivia, “and the first national championship in NPDA debate that we’ve earned since 2003.”
"Competing at this level was a great opportunity for the students to showcase their talents that they have worked so hard crafting all year long," Valdivia added. "Being on the national stage has many additional benefits, including the opportunity
to meet competitors and coaches from across the country. This tournament gives our students the chance to be seen by coaches from four-year colleges and universities that might offer them scholarships to continue their competitive speech and debate
Only junior and community colleges compete at the annual Phi Rho Pi National Tournament. This year, more than 500 students from upwards of 60 schools nationwide participated in the event.
For Garcia, nationals offered a great opportunity to meet new friends and explore schools from across the country.
“It was also an amazing opportunity to represent MHCC and be successful at the highest level of competition,” he added.
Marshall enjoyed the chance to see the different speaking styles used by some of the best collegiate speakers in the country. Attending the event also helped him with his own self confidence in speech and debate.
“I’ve often struggled with my limited knowledge base or with being able to effectively convey ideas,” he said. “But after the results of last week’s tournament, it proved to me that anyone can do anything that they put their mind to as long as they
believe in themselves.”
Earlier this year, MHCC Forensics won the Division III Gold Medal, distinguishing the Saints as the top community college program in the Northwest Forensics Conference for the 2016-2017 season.
Valdivia said that much of the team will return next season to compete, and she expects them to continue dominating the conference and national tournaments as they build upon their already impressive skills.
“This was just an amazing experience,” said Valdivia. “They are a young group, and we’re just scratching the surface of their potential.”