Three Speakers Qualify for Nationals
Students begin preparation for spring tournament
November 27, 2006 11:10 AM
Three SF State speech team members have already qualified for the national tournament in spring after only three tournaments. Qualification requires a competitor to finish in the top three at three separate tournaments.
On Nov. 15, the team showcased a number of the performances that have made them a success in front of a packed room of peers and family.
In her dramatic interpretation of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” Kimmie Sakamoto, 22, depicted a multitude of characters – from a condescending Satan to a brink-of-tears Mary Magdalene and an anguished Judas – all in under 10 minutes.
The piece is one of three Sakamoto has qualified for the national tournament. Lisa Rau, 20, has also qualified three events.
The two were recently joined by Jeremy Wesler-Buck, 19, who qualified his after-dinner speech at a Nov. 11 tournament at University of the Pacific.
Up to six events can be qualified for nationals. There are 12 categories of speech events ranging from dramatic interpretation to straightforward informative pieces to humorous after-dinner speeches.
Sakamoto is the most experienced member of team, and the only one of the three with experience at the national tournament. She qualified each of the last two years.
“The overall experience of just being in that atmosphere, that is what makes you a better performer,” Sakamoto said.
A normal tournament has between 75 and 100 competitors, said volunteer coach Collin McDonnell, 21, but the national tournament will have about 600 competitors.
“People kind of psych themselves out by thinking they need to beat 600 rather than the five they see in round,” McDonnell said. “The size of it can be intimidating.”
Rau and Wesler-Buck will experience that pressure for the first time. Both made the leap from novice to the more competitive open division for the first time this semester.
But, although qualifying for nationals is nice, it is not the most important aspect for this particular team, McDonnell said.
“It is a lot more about doing good performances for the performance’s sake,” he said.
After graduating from Bradley University in Illinois, one of the top two schools in speech, McDonnell said he returned to the Bay Area and decided to volunteer at SF State, where he helps competitors work on their delivery.
“I help people understand the power of their words,” he said. “It is almost a word-by-word process.”
The team is handicapped by a small budget, which only allows them to compete in three or four tournaments next semester, but volunteers like McDonnell and the enthusiasm of the team members have kept the program successful.
“People have postponed their graduation for the team,” Rau said. “It takes over your life, it becomes a passion.”
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