TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The College of Southern Idaho speech and debate team is facing off with other colleges in a national tournament — from a distance
“It’s definitely a learning experience, it took a few tries to be able to understand where to set your camera, what lighting looks best, where to stand and ultimately how to sound professional through a microphone,” said Olivia George, sophomore on the CSI Forensics Team.
CSI is competing Friday and over the weekend in the Tabor-Venitsky Tournament. This is one of many tournaments the college has had to compete in virtually.
The main difference, is the social aspect.
“There’s no personal connection with the opponents you’re debating with, there’s no personal connection with your judge, there’s no conversation outside of a round or speech event, whereas in an in person tournament you meet with your opponent you strike down to one topic and then you leave to prep your case and then when you come back you walk to your debate room together, so you get to know them as a human being rather than just somebody that you’re debating a against,” said Elizabeth Newland, sophomore and CSI Debate Team Captain.
Despite the online format, there’s still a lot to be learned.
“In general, I think that it gives a lot of life skills, time management, clear communication… teamwork that you obviously need to succeed,” said Newland.
Going virtual has presented new opportunities.
“Jumping into a national type of debate where I’m debating people from Florida, California, everyone has different debate styles and so it’s a great learning experience,” said George.
The team’s ability to pivot has given them valuable experience.
“It’s been wonderful to not only see the students be resilient and be able to pivot, and respond and be competitive online, but also to give them the opportunity to debate nationally in a way that we weren’t able to do traveling regionally,” said Andy Orr, Director of Forensics at CSI.
The the team looks forward to an in person return this spring.
“It’s created more opportunities and I think going forward, we are going to see a mix of in person and virtual tournaments for the competitive season,” said Orr.