When you arrive at the tournament site, your coach will most likely tell you your code number. Occasionally, your coach becomes detained with registration and you may have to find your own code number on the postings. All contestants are assigned a number to help make judging anonymous. The code includes two parts: a school code and a personal code.
Example: G = code for El Camino and 7 = personal code for Chris Skyles. Since Chris is a student at El Camino, his code number for the entire tournament is G-7, not his name. Each school is assigned a different code. A sample master school code list may look something like this:
A - CSU Northridge
B - Moorpark
C - Orange Coast College
D - Biola
E - CSU San Diego
F - UCLA
G - El Camino
School codes are given to every college entering the tournament. The letters are usually assigned as schools' entries are received. How do you find your personal number? Just like the master code sheet for school codes, there is a master code sheet for competitors' codes. Find your school code first – for this example, let's assume El Camino is "G". You might see something like this:
G-El Camino College
Next, check postings. Postings will be on a wall close to registration. There will be a relatively large group of people standing around looking at them. A posting tells you where to go to give your speech, the order in which the students will speak, the time, the event, and other information.
At many tournaments there are three divisions: novice for true beginners, junior for those with one year of experience, and senior division for those with more experience. Sometimes junior and senior are collapsed into open division. Your coach will enter you in the appropriate division. All tournaments have different rules for who is entered in which division, but usually, after you have received a first, second, or third place trophy in an event you move from novice to junior.
The divisions are then divided into events: persuasion, impromptu, poetry, duo, etc. Each event is then divided into panels consisting of five to seven speakers – these are your competitors. Panels show the room number, event, and category.
Room: HH 102
Room: HH 105
Hopefully, you have arrived with a few minutes to spare before you go off to give your speech. In our example above, if you weren't entered in novice persuasion, or an event that was to run concurrently, you would have an hour free before you were scheduled to compete. In which case, you could watch a teammate, see an event you were interested in, or practice your speech.
Once in a while there are mistakes on the postings; you should d be aware of this possibility. If your code is not listed, find a coach as soon as possible and we will take care of it. In the event that your coaches are judging or otherwise unavailable, proceed to tournament headquarters (known as the "tab room") and politely ask for help. The people in the tab room are busy running the tournament and should only be bothered as a last resort.
After your first round of competition, check postings for information on your second round. Most tournaments have three rounds of preliminary competition of each individual event, and six rounds of debate. This means you will receive feedback from three judges and compete against three different panels of contestants in individual events; and, if you debate, you will be heard by six judges and compete against at least six teams during the course of the tournament.
How do you find out how you did? Judges write comments on small cards called ballots. These ballots rank your speech according to other speakers in the round (1,2,3,4) and they rate you according to college speakers in general (superior, excellent, good, fair, poor, unprepared). The ballots are taken to the tournament headquarters where they are tallied and added. You will receive your ballots as soon as possible after the tournament.
Always arrive to your round early. Often the round begins a few minutes late but is impolite for you to arrive late. If for some reason you are late and the door is closed, listen carefully before opening the door – never walk in when someone is speaking. Assuming all is quiet when you put your ear to the door, open the door slowly and peek inside. If no one is speaking, walk in. If someone is speaking, close the door as quietly as possible and wait outside until you hear applause.
Upon walking into a room you may see one of the following scenarios:
An empty room: Double check that you are in the right room and/or building, and if so, take a seat and wait for others to arrive.
A room with one or two contestants: Smile and take a seat. You may feel inclined to talk to others, which is fine, but keep things quiet and low-key. Never criticize the way the tournament is being run, or gossip about a judge or competitor. You never know who may overhear your conversation. It may come back to haunt you
Only the judge: Often judges look similar to students – so don't assume anything. Smile and take a seat, but not right next to the judge. You may be asked what your code number is. Casual conversation is not unusual in this situation but don't be overly friendly or discuss your speech with the judge, keep things fairly impersonal.
When the round begins, your job begins. Give each speaker your undivided attention. It is rude to look at your speech, a notebook, the newspaper, or the judge. Do not yawn or rustle through your stuff. Some students pick up bad habits in competition. They may listen to you totally expressionless or not make eye contact with you at all. Don't be tempted to imitate this behavior because students pick up quickly on poor listeners and these people develop a reputation. More importantly, a positive audience member will generate a positive audience in return. Applaud each speaker. The judge is almost always in tune with the attitude of the contestants and in some cases it can influence the judge's voting decision in the round. When it is your turn to speak, walk to the front of the room, pause until the judge makes eye contact with you, and as soon as you are comfortably ready, begin.
When all the speakers have finished, your judge will say "thank you" or something indicating you may leave. Once in awhile a judge may make a comment or ask you a question about your speech. Listen to the comments and answer the question very politely, never defensively. If a judge makes a suggestion, listen and nod and thank him or her, even if you disagree with the suggestion. Never solicit advice from a judge or ask how you have done.
After a round is over, you may compliment another speaker if you feel like it. Never offer negative comments or hints at what they should change – that is an issue between the student and his or her coach.
After round 3 of individual events and round 6 of debate, the speakers and teams advancing – known as "breaking" – to elimination rounds are notified. This procedure is almost always by posting and is an exciting time for most people. Either you or your teammates will most likely advance in some events. Of course, this can also be a disappointing time if you think you performed well and did not break. If this happens, remember that experience and hard work will pay off in the end. Go to the final round in your event and observe the contestants that did make it. Look for what the judges saw in their programs and speeches and make a mental note it. Tremendous amounts of learning can take place in a final round – especially if you aren't in it! For students in their first semester of competition it is strongly suggested that you watch a final round if you are not in one yourself. If one of your teammates is in a final round it is wonderful to show your support by going to watch them.
The final activity of a speech tournament is the giving of awards. It is our custom to sit together and be enthusiastic over all the winners in all the categories from all the schools. Of course we always clap a bit harder for our people, but negative comments about winners, or inattention to the awards being given is not tolerated. Applaud others as you would have them applaud you. Awards assemblies are mandatory. You may not leave early unless you clear this with a coach. Unless you have children, having to go to work is really the only reason to leave early. Consider how important it will be to have you teammates there when you win your trophies. Feel free to keep your "hardware" or place it in our trophy case at school.
Sample Tournament Schedule
Generally, you will receive a tournament schedule the week before the tournament. Occasionally, while there are time changes, so always double check the schedule when you arrive.
Following is a sample schedule from a past tournament, but
remember, every tournament is different.
September 11, 1999
|Registration, Lecture Hall 333
Round I Pattern A (Impromptu, Persuasion, Informative, POI)
Round I Pattern B (Extemp., CA, Poetry, STE)
Round I Parli
Round 2 Pattern A
Round 2 Pattern B
Round 2 Parli Debate
Round 3 Parli Debate
Round 3 Pattern A
September 12, 1999
Round 3 Pattern B
Round 4 Parli Debate
Round 5 Parli Debate
Finals Pattern A
Round 6 Parli Debate
Finals Pattern B
Quarters Parli Debate
Semis Parli Debate
Finals Parli Debate
As you look over this sample schedule, notice there are several events going on at the same time. This is called a conflict pattern and at most tournaments you may double enter in the same pattern (after your first few tournaments). Usually, schedules allow little time for full sit down lunches and dinners so it is wise to allow yourself off one pattern – at least until you are more experienced at tournament life. Remember, it is always your responsibility to check postings for yourself and get to your round on time.
Do your best in each round; that is all your coaches ask of you. Remember why you are there: to learn and enjoy. If you make a mistake, blank out, or in general don't deliver the speech the way you did last night, don't get discouraged! This happens to everyone no matter how experienced they are. Make a note of how you can correct the mistake in the future, but above all be positive.
Qualifying for Tournaments
Everyone who, in the opinion of the coaches, is prepared may attend local tournaments. For championship tournaments and overnight tournaments we may need to limit the number of students who can participate. If this is the case, the decision will be based on competitive excellence and suitability for travel. Our overall rule for every tournament is that speeches must be written and heard two weeks prior to the tournament date; however, you must be present at the Monday team meeting in order to be entered in a tournament the coming weekend.
The State and National Tournaments
In order to participate in the State Championships, you must be
enrolled in six units, and be competitive in your events. To
participate at Nationals, you must be enrolled in nine units, and
be competitive in your events. State and Nationals fall in the same
semester, so it is wise to enroll in nine units at the beginning of
spring semester if you feel you have a chance of qualifying.
Because some tournaments require a substantial capital investment
on the part of the school, success at previous tournaments must
play a significant role in our decision-making. In addition to
success, we look to factors such as effort, attitude, and
potential. The decision on who competes at State and Nationals is
up to the coaches.