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Can I check out this activity without making a commitment to compete?

Before deciding whether to join, you can come to a meeting, just to see what we’re all about. If you do, please find one of the coaches and introduce yourself as a visitor.

Do I have to try out?

Our team philosophy is that speech and debate has a tremendous amount of value to add to a student’s education. To that end, we don’t require experience or tryouts to join the team. All we ask is that students be dedicated and work hard in order to get the most out of the activity.

How much time does Speech and Debate take? Do I have to go to every tournament, or can I take time away for another activity?

Unlike most activities on campus, S&D allows you to put in as much or as little time as you want; your time commitment will vary with your interest and dedication as well as the number of events you wish to become involved with. We hold practice once a week for two hours, and active team members are expected to attend these team meetings. Most successful students spend additional time during the week on individual research, writing and/or practice for their event(s).

You will be making your own decisions about how many tournaments (held on weekends) to attend, or how involved you will be. Tournaments vary from one to three days’ commitment and are available virtually all of the time school is in session. Despite the time commitment that might be required for success, many of our students are involved in other activities as well. It’s definitely possible to do more than just speech and debate!

It’s called speech AND debate. Do I have to do both?

Nope, it’s not required. Many students focus on just one or the other. Some students do speech one year and debate the next, or vice versa. Coaches often encourage adding a different kind of event as a way to build some complementary skills. What you choose to compete in is up to you.

How much does it cost?

An annual contribution is suggested by our team for each student for each academic year and is listed in each year’s paperwork. This is similar to marching band and sports programs, and for us, these funds pay for approximately 90% of student entry fees for tournaments, speech association dues, instructional materials, and head coach salary. The donation is not required for participation, but we do ask that you alert the head coach or treasurer if you are financially unable to contribute. Smaller donations are perfectly acceptable in cases of financial hardship--everything helps! For our remaining budgetary needs, the team holds fundraisers, for which we ask both student and parent participation. Some tournaments, especially travel, are NOT generally covered by the team, so discussing needs early and often is key for families with financial need whose students want to commit to a high level of participation.

I’m interested in a partner event. How are partners assigned? What if I don’t have one?

The team will never force you into a specific partnership. However, if you are unsure how to get a partner, talking to your event coach, captain, or student mentor is the best way to get linked up with someone!

What if I want to go to a tournament that isn’t on the calendar? Can I just go?

Because of district policies and, in some cases, rules imposed by the tournaments themselves, you need a district-approved adult on-site for these events. We try very hard to offer our students a wide variety of events, but for staffing reasons, we can’t be everywhere at once. If you have a specific tournament you want added to the schedule, please talk to the Head Coach. Students attending school in the MVLA district shall never enter tournaments as so-called "independent" entries but only under the name of and with the knowledge of the Head of MVLA Speech and Debate Programs. Students who do not follow this rule may be subject to sanction by the Speech & Debate Club and the MVLA District.

I am a parent. Do I need to attend practices with my student?

No. MVLASD is staffed by district-cleared adults who provide supervision during practices. However, if you want to volunteer to come judge practice rounds or be a room monitor, we are always grateful for your support. Please fill out a volunteer form!

I am a student who attends a middle/elementary school that doesn't have a Youth Forensics League program. Can I join one of yours?

Unfortunately, our middle school partners have asked us not to invite unaffiliated students onto their campuses, as it creates liability problems for them. However, we are happy to have you at our summer camp programs!

I am a student from a high school that doesn't have a debate team. Can I attend your practices or hybrid with your students?

Generally, the answer here is "no." The Head Coach is happy to direct students without coaching resources to contacts in the local debate league, potential coaches, and other information that can be helpful in starting a team at your school. We only allow hybrids in events that commonly allow them, such as parliamentary, and only under extraordinary circumstances. Conditions of hybrids need to be discussed between our Head Coach and an adult responsible for the external student, who could be a parent if there is no school program director available.

Have a question that's not answered here? Contact us!

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