Team Handbook


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Sprague Speech and Debate Team Handbook

Speech and debate is an OSAA activity that gives students the opportunity to practice public speaking, develop research skills, and meet students from other schools. This co-curricular activity requires time outside of school for preparation, practice, and competition. This handbook is meant to provide an overview of the events, describe the procedure of tournaments, and lay out rules for our team at Sprague High School.

Speech Events

For an after school meet or a Saturday only meet, you may compete in one event or as many events as tournament rules will allow. Early in the season, there are some multi-day meets where you may still compete in one event. There are several multi-day meets later on in the season where you will be required to be entered in multiple events. Each tournament sign-up sheet will outline event requirements. For district competition, our team is allowed to have three entries in each event, so research events with few students participating if you want a better chance of competing at districts.

On the following pages are brief descriptions of the events in which students will have the opportunity to compete.


Team practice will be Wednesdays (2:30-5:30) afterschool in room 109. Each student will use the time to practice their event(s): platform, debate, and interpretations. Attendance is mandatory for a practice every week.

Some practices will also be held outside of the primary time, depending on the needs of individual students. Students should be prepared to spend several hours outside of practice each week working on their events once competition begins.

Tournament Dress Code

In competitive speech, your success depends on other people judging your performance and, like it or not, your appearance. Professional attire is the norm for speech tournaments. Wear what one would wear to a job interview.

During tournaments, you may change into casual clothes between rounds if you have a long layoff, after your preliminary rounds and have not broken, or after you have finished competing if there is time before we leave. I ask that you remain in your dress clothes for the awards ceremony if you are going up on stage for an award.


Our competitive speech season starts on the second weekend of October and continues through April, when the district and state tournaments are held. Tournaments may be after school, only Saturday, Fridays and Saturdays, and/or Thursday through Saturdays. Students are allowed to compete in any and all open registration tournaments over the course of the year. The more tournaments you enter, the more experience you gain, and the better your chances of succeeding at National Qualifiers, OSAA Districts, and State.

Prior to participating in any competitions, you must complete and return both the Parent Permission Form and also the Student Information Sheet. You must also have been cleared to compete by your lab leader and by a coach.

Saturday tournaments typically begin by leaving school around 6:00am and ending about 9:00pm. This may seem like a long day, but the tournaments are a lot of fun, and you will meet some great people from other schools. Generally, you will compete in three rounds at each tournament, which means three times that you perform your speech with a group of other competitors. The judge (often a coach, parent, or college student) is responsible for ranking you among your competitors and will fill out a ballot that lists your rank and his/her comments on your performance. You will not see these ballots until after the tournament is over, but they can be a great learning tool and can help you to identify areas for improvement. If you have great scores, you may find yourself in a final round competing for a tournament championship. Students in final rounds typically receive awards which you may keep for the weekend to show off. Trophies then return to school for display in the trophy case until that student graduates.

Mr. Curry is a pretty important person in Oregon speech. I am frequently in headquarters working on running the tournament. What this means is that you can go the whole day and only see me once. With that in mind, if there is an issue that requires my attention, you must bring that issue to me or another assistant coach or parent chaperone. Don’t wait for me to swing by or chatter with other teammates. You can reach me via my phone or by finding me in headquarters or where I am judging. Do not solve big problems on your own.

If you commit to attending a tournament and then realize you cannot make it, you are responsible for letting me know at least 5 days in advance (when tournament registrations are sent in). If you cancel after being registered, you will be charged for the amount that your entry cost the team (for most tournaments, this is $7-10; the fee is doubled if you are double entered). This is to cover the cancellation fees that schools charge us when we drop a speech entry for their tournament. Exceptions to the late drop fees will be made in case of illness where it is impossible to compete or family emergencies. In these cases, the coach must be notified before the tournament.

Tournament Rules

During speech tournaments, you are constantly being judged, even during your free time between rounds. Inappropriate behavior reflects badly not only on you, but on your teammates and on your school. Some of these rules are common sense and others may seem a bit odd, but all of them are important to follow:

  • Be a good sport, whether you win or lose. Do not EVER badmouth an opponent or another school at a tournament because you never know who is going to overhear, and this sort of behavior can really hurt a team’s reputation. And NO WHINING!
  • Be a good audience member during rounds. Not only can you learn a lot from your competitors’ performances, but you want them to be attentive during your own performance. Do not talk, pass notes, sleep, etc. while another student is performing. If a competitor is being disrespectful during your performance, be the better person and show respect to him/her. Judges will notice.
  • Avoid identifying your school to judges before awards. Also, do not ask your opponents what school they’re from in the presence of judges. Tournaments assign you a code for a reason: you want the judge to base his/her decision on the merit of the performance, not on the affiliation of the performer.
  • If you are double-entered in a tournament, inform your judge politely at the beginning of the round. When you arrive at the round for your next event, do NOT enter the room while another student is performing; instead, wait until that person is finished and then enter quietly and let the judge know your code.
  • Take each tournament one round at a time. If you have a bad round, don’t dwell on it! Some things are beyond your control, so move on and do your best in the remaining rounds. You must check in and out with me if there are off-campus food options. You must also leave and return with a herd. A herd is 3 or more people from Sprague. You may leave campus with competitors from other schools so long as you are with an Oly Herd.

National Speech and Debate Association

The National Speech and Debate Association (formerly the National Forensic League) is a nationwide speech and debate honor society. Through the NFL, you receive points for your performance at tournaments, which build towards “degrees” of excellence, for which you receive recognition from the NFL and which are great resume builders. Because this is a national organization, there are universities across the country that recognize the value of this program, and scholarship opportunities are becoming increasingly available for NFL members. There is a $15 fee to join, and this fee is covered as a part of your fundraising efforts. Beyond benefits to individuals, your membership also helps the team; the more points our team has, the more competitors we can send to the national qualifying tournament, which determines the students who will be able to attend the national tournament. Past national tournaments have been held in locations such as Charlotte, New York City, Las Vegas, Birmingham, and Kansas City.

Speech Lingo

There are lots of strange terms used in the speech community, and here are a few of the basics. Especially at tournaments, you may hear what sounds like a foreign language, but do not be intimidated! You will learn quickly.

  • Novice: A first year competitor
  • Round: Tournaments are set up in competitive units called rounds. During each round, you will compete against students from other schools.
  • Rank: In each round, your judge will rank you in comparison to the other competitors in the round.
  • Breaking: If you did well enough in the preliminary rounds, you may “break” to the final round in your event.
  • Code: Competitors generally are assigned a code by the tournament directors in order to maintain anonymity and to reduce possible judging bias.

Lettering in Speech

Lettering will be based on any one of the following requirements:

  • Achieve 150 NFL points in a single competition year.
  • Qualify to OSAA State Championships
  • Qualify to the NFL National Championships



  • Created By Jordan Millett -- 9/26/2019

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