Speech & Debate Society
Founded in 2008, the Covenant College Speech & Debate Society quickly emerged as a force to be reckoned with on the forensic scene. Members of the team have earned national awards in both parliamentary debate and public speaking events, and have brought home dozens of regional and local awards.
The Speech & Debate Society is open to students who have never competed in public speaking or competitive debate, but also provides challenging experiences for seasoned speakers and debaters. The society is led by Coach Sarah Swygard ’13 and several veteran student leaders.
Students in the society learn to think quickly on their feet, speak persuasively, and make connections between the ideas they’re learning in the classroom and national and international events. The skills students acquire through speech and debate have practical applications in life after college.
“The ability to organize your thoughts clearly and to communicate them in a persuasive way is useful when you’re sitting in a job interview or working at a job,” says alumna and former debater Susanna Griffith ’13. “These are skills that you’ll use for the rest of your life, and Covenant’s debate program is a great place to start developing those skills.”
Speech & Debate Scholarships
Please contact Sarah Swygard for more information about scholarships for speech and debate.
Speech & Debate Coach
B.A. in English, Covenant College, 2013
How you got involved in speech and debate
My dad competed in speech and debate in high school and college, so when he started coaching a high school team it was just assumed that I would compete. As soon as I got to junior high, I started going to tournaments and have been with it ever since. While I played sports and participated in other activities, speech and debate definitely had the most impact on my life.
I competed with the National Forensics League and the high school league in Oklahoma; but as a college student we went to tournaments associated with a couple different leagues. During my junior and senior year at Covenant, I was given the opportunity to develop the program and coach the team. It has been exciting to watch the team be successful and receive a lot of regional recognition in the last few years, and I’m excited to continue growing the program!
What you enjoy most about speech and debate at Covenant
Being part of a college team is different than most competitors experience on high school teams. Since there is more travel in college forensics, my favorite part has been getting to know my team members really well. The team changes every year, but it is always a really awesome group of students who both care about serious issues and love to have a good time.
What students can expect to learn and experience in Covenant’s speech and debate society
Whether you’ve competed for a long time or this is your first time trying out the activity, you can expect to develop your speaking and thinking skills through competition and meetings. Currently, we go to about 3-4 tournaments a semester and have weekly meetings where I coach through improving speaking skills, organizing your thought processes, and understanding specific debate theory.
This is also a great outlet to stay connected to life off of the Mountain and to be aware of what’s going on in the world. We interact a lot with students from other schools, and it’s always interesting to talk about what you are learning in Covenant classes with people who are not from Covenant.
Favorite speech or debate event
My favorite event is parliamentary debate for sure. We didn’t have parli in high school, so I was slightly intimidated by the event when I got to college. It’s a form of team debate where you find out the resolution 20 minutes before the debate round starts. We prep as a whole squad, and then break up into teams to go to the individual rounds. There’s a lot of adrenaline, and I’ve gotten to learn about all sorts of topics really quickly. Every round’s resolution is different, so we’ve debated everything from sports to ethics to economic policies. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn in 20 minutes when the pressure is on!
Why students should consider speech and debate at Covenant
Being part of the team is a great opportunity to get to know other students and to also develop your speaking and analytical skills. The activity not only looks great on a resume, but competing at tournaments helps you learn how to think on your feet and express your opinions in a persuasive way.
A number of people on the team have said that they feel more prepared for classes and what they want to do after college. No matter what profession you pursue, you will eventually have to speak in front of other people in interviews, at conferences, or in meetings. This activity is a great way to start preparing for that while being part of a fun group of students on campus.