Speech and Debate State Champions


Last weekend Speech and Debate won the State Champions, and many students were crowned individual state champions at the AIA Division ll State Speech and Debate tournament. Everybody did such a great job, and ACP is so very proud of them. I interviewed Mr. Rumsey about his experience coaching Speech and Debate.

Q: How long have you been teaching/ sponsoring debate? How has the team changed over that course of time?

A: This is my sixth season. We started with 15 students the first year, then jumped to 32, then 41, then 53, then 64, and this year we are at 108. When we first started, we had no clue what we were doing. We spent a lot of time laughing at ourselves and our ineptitude. I didn’t know much about Speech and Debate, so we were all learning together. Now, we are all very knowledgeable and the veterans train
the novices.

Q: What were some memorable moments that happened over the course of this year that you know will go down in our school’s Speech and Debate history? How do you think the students changed from the beginning of the year until now? 

A: We entered the auditorium not knowing who the state champion in any of the 18 events would be. They called the top six to the stage in each event and announced the places one by one until finally announcing the champion. It was an amazing thing to witness the crowning of 14 state champions. I don’t know if we will ever have such a dominant performance at the AIA State Tournament. It was a great memory. We are all about collaboration. We don’t work in isolation. Because of that dynamic, everyone just kept getting better throughout the year and we came together as a family.

Q: How do you think the team’s size affected the overall performance of the team? Were there any obstacles you had to face as the team grew bigger? 

A: It helped us. The more people you have, the greater the possibility that someone will excel in a specific event. Also, there are 18 different events. With more people in each event, we were able to collaborate with more people. Yes. The family environment we have always had was more difficult to maintain. We knew that was going to be a problem going into the season, but our Leadership Council did a great job addressing the issue. The biggest obstacle was that our large size meant that not everyone could compete in the events that they wanted to compete in.

Q: Were there any other State Championships you’ve won in the past? When you started the team, did you think that this moment would ever happen? What takeaways have you learned as the team matured and evolved? 

A: We won the State Championship two previous years. This is our third in a row. In the beginning, we didn’t think about it. One of our two core values is “see the big picture.” We take that to mean don’t focus on the trophies, but on all the other great benefits we get from Speech and Debate; the development of relationships, skills, leadership, and moral character. I always emphasize that if we pursue excellence in these four things, success will just happen. That and being the leader of young, passionate students is a beautiful thing. They add to my life as much as I add to theirs.

Q: What made you want to teach/sponsor Speech and Debate in the first place? Were you excited at first to start the team or did you have some hesitations? 

A:  I didn’t want to. I was doing debates four times a year in my 9th grade English class and one day after school a group of my ex-students abducted me, tied me up, and only released me on my consent to be their coach. I had Major hesitations.

Congratulations to all the students and teachers that were in the State Champions. Amazing job! Going in front of so many people and doing what you do is commendable. Everyone at ACP supports you and is so proud of you for your awesome win! Go, Knights!