Chico State Speech and Debate team win big at national tournament


Haley Woods

Chico State Speech and Debate Team at the National Forensics Association tournament. Photo courtesy of Bailey James.

The Chico State Speech and Debate team took home the gold at the National Forensics Association tournament in Peoria, Illinois. Students Bailey James and Jacob Tobias both placed in their divisions.

James took first place in the impromptu speaking event in the novice division. The impromptu competition allows participants two minutes to prepare a five minute speech, with topics ranging from current events to films, books, celebrities and more.

For James, finding out about her win was a special moment. 

“We actually didn’t know how we placed until minutes before our plane took off from Chicago. It was such a surreal experience because I’ve never placed first in an event before. I was so grateful to have my close friends there who literally cheered me on the entire way! This was my first year on the team and I never imagined I’d gain a national title in the process,” James said.

Jacob Tobias and Bailey James strike a pose at the tournament. Photo courtesy of Bailey James.

Jacob Tobias competed in program oral interpretation, novice impromptu speaking and novice poetry interpretations. He placed fourth in novice impromptu speaking and second place in poetry interpretation.

Reflecting on the tournament, Tobias said, “It honestly means a lot to me, not really about how I placed, but about the opportunities I have gotten through competing with the team. We’ve gotten to travel all throughout California, to Oregon, Tokyo, and Chicago. The competitors are always incredibly friendly and the whole community is so welcoming to others, so it was truly a wonderful experience.”

Nine competitors from Chico proved their speech and debate abilities before and during their time in Illinois. To compete at the national tournament, debaters must advance to finals in their event in a prior competition. Both novice and seasoned competitors represented Chico State at the national tournament, highlighting a promising future for the team moving forward. 

Chico State’s Speech and Debate team has had a positive impact on the lives of its members.

“It means the world to me that I’ve gained so many friends from the team and the different events I’ve done. Getting to place at Nationals was simply a bonus on everything else,” Tobias said.

Kristin Moore can be reached at [email protected].