A passion for persuasion

The WSU debate team with their awards and trophies.

Weber State University’s Speech and Debate team was recently recognized as the top university team in the Northwest region, which includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, northern Utah, Montana and Alaska.

Two members of the team won individual awards within their region — Jazmyne Olson and Lily Nunley.

On top of multiple weekly meetings, members individually spend hours researching for and preparing their speeches.

“We’re talking hours and hours and hours that they’re willing to put in the time and effort, and critique themselves and improve consistently throughout the year,” Mark Galaviz, coach of the team, said.

Kyle Housley, a coach for the Speech and Debate team, said many members of the team prepare anywhere from four to seven speeches for each tournament.

“Each of those speeches takes around 20 hours for us to memorize,” Housley said. “That’s not even adding any emotion into any of that.”

Housley said that after practicing techniques, each speech takes about 40 hours to perfect. Olson agreed, saying that while the time commitment is extensive, it’s all worth it.

“At the end of the day, it’s a lot of work, and I have never been in an environment that pushes me more and asks more of me than debate,” Olson said. “But I’ve also never been in an environment that has helped me grow so much, that has helped me develop my skills in the same way.”

The debaters agree that their work ethic has brought them success.

“We all relentlessly push towards being the best that we can … and we’re surrounded by brilliant people here and that pushes us to be better as well,” Housley said.

Olson went on to explain similar feelings, stating the competitive environment fosters a snowball effect to push yourself. Galaviz and Olson also said the team supports and improves each other.

Galaviz recalls a tournament where the team had dwindled to seven or eight members, as opposed to other teams who were averaging 14 members.

“Some real tragedy struck … but the way the team rallied together was, I think, one of my [proudest] moments,” Galaviz said.

Olson expressed gratitude at the opportunities debate has provided for them.

“I truthfully feel so privileged to be able to compete in speech and debate, because I have the advantage of being able to go into a room and having at least one person have to sit down and listen to me for 10 minutes about whatever I’m saying.”