Speaking up


Sydney Thayer

Sophomore Addie Li practices her speeches in front of her coaches so that they can give her suggestions on how to make her speech better.

Like many of her fellow teammates Addie Li has already been up for nearly three hours when her first round of the day begins.  She will alternate between classrooms throughout the day, each of which holds a new round of competitors and a new judge to critique her speech.  In each room she will be ranked against the six or seven other competitors in the room and learn from each of the critiques that the judges give to her. While Li may have only attended a few tournaments so far this year, she is already leaping to the top of the rankings and making her name known among her competitors.  

When Li, sophomore, joined the forensics team at that the beginning of this year she saw it as a chance to get out of her comfort zone.  “I was never really a person who liked public speaking, but then I wanted to try something new so I decided to look into forensics.”  Regardless of her apprehension, Li turned out to be a natural. During her first tournament, Li was able to break into the final rounds in both of her events. While breaking in both events is enough to be an accomplishment in it of itself, Li broke into the varsity level, placing third in Oratorical Declamation. Li also placed first in Original Oratory in the novice category.  For many novices breaking, or making it to the final rounds of their event isn’t too uncommon, it’s the fact that a novice broke into a varsity tournament that stands out.

“I have only heard of one person ever [breaking into varsity], and it was Addie… breaking into varsity is super hard, people on varsity can’t even do it many times,” said veteran team member Kayleigh Excell.  

Mackenzie Turnbull
Li placed among varsity competitors during her first tournament.

The week before her first tournament Li spent her time preparing for and writing each of her speeches.  She used both team practice and at home memorization to succeed. While she originally had trouble finding a speech to give, and a topic on which to write her original piece, with the help and guidance of returning members and coaches, she eventually formulated her ideas.  Li spent more than three hours perfecting her speeches, in anticipation of her first tournament.  All of the preparation time that Li put in was worth it considering her achievements.  

Li credits much of her success to her coaches, who helped her not only find a speech, but also gave her helpful tips on how she should give each line.  “Your tone of voice, your enunciation and your diction are all very important.  They give you really helpful suggestions on how you should give a certain line in order to make it funny, or sad, or sentimental,” Li said.

Through all of her success Li has made sure to not forget the teammates that helped her get where she is. “My team members are really just so supportive and are really happy for you when you win something, or even if you don’t, it doesn’t matter because everyone supports you no matter what.”

Li and her teammates share positive mutual feelings towards one another and are able to benefit from having each other around. “Addie is probably one of the sweetest and most enthusiastic people I know. She is so supportive and will give you constructive criticism when you need it,” Excell said.

Forensics has not only been able to teach Li and help her work better with her coaches and peers, she has also been able to practice skills that can help her later on in her life.  

“[This experience] has taught me how to cooperate with and work with coaches to improve. It has also taught me to budget my time wisely,” Li said. “It teaches you how to be more eloquent or expressive with your words, especially if you are trying to persuade someone in business or trying to give a presentation if you are into the sciences.”

With the skills that she has gained throughout this experience, Li plans to continue to succeed in her speech career. She is excited for next year, in which she will become a full fledged varsity team member.