By Lucas Theriault
Glendale Community College’s Speech and Debate team begins its new year by welcoming its new coach, Shelton Hill, to its first practice Aug. 26. Over this past summer, GCC Speech and Debate, also known as GCC Forensics, underwent a round of improvements.
Communication Department Chair and Chief Executive Officer for the Forensics Team, Dr. Jim Reed, orchestrated many of these changes in order to take the team to the next level in response to the dedication and potential of its competitors. “Sometimes you’re fortunate enough to find students who say ‘Hey, I not only enjoy this, but I’ve been to a couple of speech contests and see people getting awards and some of my colleagues getting awards’ and the team decides ‘Why can’t we all be champs and show the college and university world that GCC ranks right at the top?’” he said, “and I think we can also say our forensics team has a culture of winning but forensics has become even more competitive, so we’ve grown our team and brought in a coach from one of the top debate schools in the nation and the entire department is behind these students as they go out and create an even better name for GCC.”
New faculty member Shelton Hill, the centerpiece of the improvement, came to Phoenix from Chattanooga, Tennessee this summer to take the head coach position for GCC’s Forensics Team.
He brought his talents and old-school coaching to the Forensics to develop what he sees as a great opportunity. “I am happy and amazed at the level of talent and potential here at GCC. The level of support at the administrative level far surpasses anything I could have hoped for in my previous position in Chattanooga TN.” said Hill, “I believe we are embarking on a journey of competition and student success.” On top of coaching, Shelton Hill now teaches Intro to Human Communication (COM100) and Public Speaking (COM225).
Speech and Debate is traditionally divided into debate and individual events. These individual events include impromptu speaking, memorized platform speeches, and theatre-inspired interpretive pieces. Debate often steals the show in the public imagination, but the “After-Dinner Speaking” event draw the biggest crowds. ADS, as it is called, is a memorized speech about some sort of social issue, filled to the brim with ruthless humour. One can expect serious problems to be tackled through the vehicle of self-deprecating humor, friendly roasting of competitors, and more celebrity death jokes than one would imagine could be written. Co-Captain David Turpin debates for GCC, but also brought home multiple awards, including an international award.
Last year proved to be an international success in Barcelona, Spain where GCC brought home 2 trophies. A tragic performance at the Phi Rho Pi community college national tournament, where several competitors missed finals by razor-thin margins. This proved to fuel the team’s desire. “Many of us came within a few points of breaking into the final rounds. As a team, we have taken that frustration and have started channeling that into hard work this semester. We are already far ahead of where we were this time last year,” said co-captain and senior interpretive events performer Kyle Backer.
The Forensics team worked hard preparing for this next season over this past summer, culminating in a week-long intensive training camp after coach Hill’s arrival. The Aug. 10 training camp provided the opportunity for coach Hill to begin honing the ideas competitors had into speeches and interpretive pieces. Debaters began again from square one starting from the fundamentals and interpretive events competitors set to the task of grinding out pieces before school starts to get ahead of the game.
The team responded in an overwhelmingly positive manner to the change in coaching. We’re all definitely excited for this new year to come, with our new coach.
He seems very level-headed and knows what he wants, which is to bring back a lot of trophies, a lot of success and a few scholarships,” said team co-captain David Turpin. The GCC Forensics team is currently preparing for the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State University, the first tournament of the year, Oct. 3 and 4.