HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - William Carey University’s speech and debate team overcame challenges from COVID-19 as several team members won categories in the school division in a recent forensic competition.
“They have done really well despite all the craziness and the anxiety,” said Brandon Knight, director of the speech and debate team.
COVID-19 has changed the playing field for speech and debate competitions, with the recent Southern Regional Forensics Championship having to be held virtually.
“It is interesting how the forensics community, and I say forensics, meaning speech and debate community, have all pulled together,” Knight said. “And we actually have software that we use to show both competitors, aff: affirmative, and then neg: negative, right, and even your judges.”
Among those winning for the team is Galia Mixon, of Hattiesburg. She placed first overall in the after-dinner speaking category. She explained the piece she did during the competition.
“I talked about stereotypes that the Christian faith often faces and the after dinner, you’re supposed to do it in kind of a funny but also an engaging way,” said Mixon, who is also secretary for the speech and debate team.
As vice president of the team, Omar Villarreal won Mississippi State Champion in two categories at the competition. He discussed how the team adapted during the pandemic.
“Competing online with a webcam is definitely a lot more of a different environment,” Villareal said. “But I would say it [was] much easier to go in person, but we’ve had success virtually as well.”
Also winning was Victoria Byrd, who won the Mississippi State Champion in the program oral interpretation category, and Dayhath Marte-Herrera, who won the Top Novice Award in the impromptu speaking category.
William Carey’s speech and debate team competed against more than 200 students in last week’s competition.
The team’s next debate is on Feb. 13 at the annual Eddy Shell Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament.