Speech Team Achieves Success in Regional Competition

     While it’s been in the headlines that sports like football and wrestling have had to postpone their season in light of the Coronavirus, there are still many Fenwick competitive teams and activities that have continued their seasons with extra precautions and adjustments. One great example of thriving during trying times is the speech team. Despite switching in person tournaments to pre-recorded and occasionally “Zoomed” competitions, the Fenwick Speech Team adapted and made it to Sectionals.

      The team consists of ten students, representing ten different events. This is about the size of the team on a normal year. Coach Geralyn Magrady describes the team as “small but mighty.” This year the team could not compete in their usual league, the Chicago Catholic Forensic League. The team opted to join the public leagues this season and faced public schools in the area instead. These public school teams are bigger, which might appear a disadvantage. However, the team ended up doing quite well in both regionals and sectionals. Fenwick’s team placed fourth in the regional competition, in which several members qualified for sectionals. New this year were two transfer students from Guerin Prep, Katie Bartlett (‘21) and Landon Rivera (‘21) who competed in the “Humorous Duet Acting” event and took first place at regionals. Four Fenwick events saw finalists at Sectionals (including senior Belle Hart in two events, Original Oratory and Dramatic Interpretation).

      Ms. Magrady and some of the speech team members agree that one of the biggest struggles was trying to have an impact on the audience without being physically in front of them. Katie Bartlett says, “For most of our competitions we had to record our scene in advance over Zoom. We were able to do multiple takes, but it was still difficult to figure out how to act together and connect through a screen.” Senior Devan Pietrzak (Poetry) agrees, saying, “I think that really communicating the passion and emotion of a piece, and getting the audience involved is a lot more challenging in a virtual setting. Because of this, we’ve had to play around and experiment with different gestures and camera angles to make the presentation more impactful.” The endless Zoom meetings are something that most can relate to in this season, and the lack of emotional connection, which is the forefront of a spoken performance, is very difficult to achieve.

     Another negative effect of Zoom being the primary contact between team members is that some of the students have not met face to face. Extemporaneous Speaking rep Charlie Phillips (‘24) says, “It’s been weird to not meet your teammates and coaches in-person, but it’s been a weird year anyway.” 

     Despite the challenges, the team was able to draw some positives from this season. Ms. Magrady says that she was able to see what a positive effect one-on-one coaching can have within the team. The biggest benefits being, working on a schedule that works with individuals and maximizing the amount of time Magrady and Coach Libby Kincanon got to work with everyone on their specific events.  All the team members are so grateful to Coaches Magrady and Libby for the work they did to make the season run as smoothly as possible.

     The way the team dominated this year has heightened the anticipation for next year, when they can hopefully have a standard season. Despite all the restrictions in place, the speech team was truly able to “crush-Covid.”