Third Time’s the Charm

By Olivia Olander and Sarah LaVake

Junior Cameron Sippel, who placed third in a statewide speech and debate tournament on the weekend of April 17-19, didn’t expect to have a career in the subject before he came to high school.

“I never knew anything about speech and debate going into my freshman year, and it was just something that I noticed and thought it would be interesting to try,” said Sippel, “But after hearing about it from other students and going to a summer camp that told me a little bit more about it, I was beginning to be really interested.”

After a qualifier with 325 competitors in his event, Sippel moved on to the state level with 56 other speakers. “The biggest difficulty, because it’s the top 56 in state, everyone was very talented. When you give your speech, you’re in [a] round with the 7 people…You have to watch the other 6 speeches and because they’re all so talented, it freaks you out because you’re trying to compare yourself to them the whole time, so you don’t want to psych yourself out,” said Sippel.

This isn’t Sippel’s first time making it to a high level of competition. He also qualified and competed at the state level in his freshman and sophomore years, making this his third year at state. However, it was different this year because he was in a new speaking event, he said.

This year he competed in oratorical interpretation, which is “basically taking a speech someone else has given before, a commencement speech for graduation or a court testimony…and you give it as if you were that person,” explained Sippel. “My speech is an ESPY award [acceptance speech] by a basketball coach that won a courage award for cancer, and died of cancer two months after. It’s all about making the most of life and enjoying life.”

Another difference that he noticed this year was that he enjoyed his speech throughout the entire process. In previous years, he said, he got tired of his speech after practicing and performing it many times over. “At that point you’ve been going through [it] the whole year, and this is in April and you start in October. But for this speech, I never got tired because it’s such a fun one to give… It kept mine and other people’s attention because it was really interesting to listen to.”

Looking forward, Sippel seemed unsure about what’s next for him in speech and debate. He knows he’s not taking the class next year, but plans to compete, he said. And after that?

“As for the future,” said Sippel, “it hasn’t been written yet.”