Recap of the 2022 National Speech and Debate Tournament


Kylie Stevermer, Student Writer

Horace High School had its first kids walk its halls in 2021. In 2022, nine of the students, just freshman and sophomores, qualified for the National Speech and Debate tournament.


One freshman, Jordan Graves, placed top 16 in Big Question Debate. That means this freshman, who has never done speech or debate before, placed in the top 16 in the nation in her event. I was able to speak to Jordan in person and man did she have some great information!


Q: Was there a time when you felt all was lost? Or that you were going to fail?

“I always expected to fail, as it was my first year doing anything in speech or debate, but I think the first day was the hardest for me.”


Q: What were your feelings during the time when you were getting the results?

“I finished my round at around two to four and the results were posted at seven, so for quite a few hours I was nervously waiting for the results. When we finally did get the results, I was shocked but mostly relieved.”


Q: What were your speeches about?

“I was in debate, so we had a ‘big question debate’. I believe the topic was something like, ‘Our balanced society is benefited by religious beliefs and practices.’ For debate you must make an argument for both sides of the topic because you need to be prepared to speak on both sides.”


Q: Did you receive any advice? If you did, what was the best piece of advice you received?

“Amberg, the coach, stressed to everyone very frequently that we need to make sure our supplements were done, and I think that was one thing that was extremely helpful. You must make sure you are prepared, and to go into it with the ideology that it is just practice for the next years to come, so try your best and know that you will fail, and when you do, everyone will be proud because of how far you got.”


Q: What is something you learned that you will carry into the future with you?

“I learned that you honestly just must roll with the punches. No matter what they throw at you, you must bounce back and respond. I also learned that you need to have confidence. If you don’t, you won’t get anywhere. So have confidence!”


Jordan gave some great advice throughout the entire interview, even some of the other participants saying the same thing in their interviews! Griffin (another member of speech and debate) said, “You [also] have to make sure you’re prepared going into everything, even your supplemental events.”


Four more students I was able to get in contact with also gave me good information. Alora and Veda, who were duo interpretation partners, allowed me to email them and ask them a few questions, as well as Levi and Maggie, who also allowed me to interview them through email.


Q: Alora, what were some of the best moments of the students during the event?

“One of my favorite memories was our last night in Kentucky. Me and several teammates got all dressed up to go to the awards ceremony before going out to eat as Team Horace.


Q: Alora, what was your favorite speech of the event, and who preformed it?

“My favorite speech to watch was a duo from Idaho who competed against us in one of our preliminary rounds. This boy and girl preformed a beautiful duo about the love and bond siblings have for each other. I remember looking around the room and almost everyone was crying. The judge had to ask if we were all emotionally ready to move on through his own tears. It was funny.”


Q: Veda, how long was the trip and where was it located? When and where was your first event?

“NATS was in Louisville, Kentucky and it’s about a 19-hour bus ride there. Our district had a lot of fun playing games and stretching on the way there. I competed in Duo interpretation with my partner, Alora, and our first event was in Belknap Academic Hall at 9:30am. We spent most of our time practicing or competing in Louisville.”


Q: Levi, my first question is what were the topics that you presented? As well, were you in speech or debate? If you were in speech what is your go to topic? And if you remember, where did you place?

A: “Firstly, the event I went for was international extemporaneous speaking, so the topics I present are mostly about international news. Wars, famines, technological advancement, pretty much anything having to do with global politics. I don’t really remember specific topics, but I probably spoke about the invasion of Ukraine the most out of everything. To answer your second question, I do both, but I made it to nationals with speech. To answer your third question, I don’t really have a go to topic, but my favorite topic area is probably South America. Finally, I never got an exact placement, but I got eliminated in the first set of prelims, so after six rounds.”


Q: Maggie, what got you into speech and debate? Similarly, what is your favorite speech and debate topic?

“I wasn’t wild about the idea of speech and debate when I first joined, due partly to the fact that Hannah (another member of the speech and debate team) finagled me into doing it and partly because my mom wanted me to do an activity. But to answer your question— what truly got me into speech and debate was quite literally doing speech and debate. I felt as if I found an activity that played to my strengths, as well as a great group of friends that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Out of the three types of debate, congressional debate is by far my favorite. It’s a lot more laid-back than LD and PD, and I love getting to interact with a ton of different people. My favorite speech event would have to be radio (very similar to what a newscaster would do). I don’t have a specific reason why, I just think it’s a super unique and fun event, and in my opinion the skills I have gained in radio are the most applicable to a ready world job.”


I also interviewed the speech and debate coach, Nathan Amberg, about a few questions I could not get answers to from students! Here’s how that went:


Q: Who was the highest placer in North Dakota?

“Jordan Graves did well, but a for the Middle School National tournament, there was a middle schooler from Liberty also placed pretty high in a separate event. Heritage also had a seventh grader make Semi-Finals in Congressional Debate, Nora Aeilts.”


Q: How many students were there in total?

“Something like 8,500 students participated in the event.”


After interviewing all these people, I have more knowledge about speech and debate. I have a good feeling that next year the Nationals for our two-year-old team will be better than ever.