Speech team places 7th at state tournanment in all-virtual format


Photo courtesy-Gwendolynne Royle

This year, the DGS speech team placed 7th at the IHSA state competition

Greyson Martinescu, News Editor

Last weekend, five members of the DGS speech team competed in an all-new virtual format for the state placing 7th overall. The team originally finished 3rd at sectionals with all 10 members becoming a sectional finalist and or state qualifier.

With the team achieving a state championship the year before, earning this prestigious title whether in-person or virtual is nothing new for Senior Alaina Vergara who placed first in informative speaking at the Byron Holiday Classic and has been on the team since her freshman year. She describes how the change from not performing in front of a live audience has changed the experience.

“There’s a huge difference. Performing in front of a room of people has a completely different energy. An important piece of speech, especially in public speaking, is making eye contact so with a live audience you can gauge your audience’s reactions,” Vergara said.

With performing in front of a live audience being a key component in speech, creating a true connection with those you are presenting to is particularly important, more so when competing for the state championship.

Since joining her sophomore year, Senior Kayte Salgado, who placed 5th at state in prose reading, also strongly agrees that not having the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience was a major obstacle this year.

“I would say the most difficult part of performing on screen would be that there is no audience, at least for most of the season. I would say the best thing for having a strong performance would be to imagine that you have an audience and to just enjoy what you are doing and to absorb every moment,” Salgado said.

With all the preparation that comes behind the scenes, this year has been no different for speech team coach and DGS English teacher Justin Matkovich who entered his 13th year coaching the team.

“It’s been a lot different. Students have been forced to master filming techniques(lighting,sound, framing) all while trying to adapt to performances that have no real audience. Coaches have been forced to become IT help desks where I’d be emailing or reminding a panicked student to help them upload their videos in time“, Matkovich said.

Despite not having the original capability of having a live in-person audience to perform for, Vergara still sought out her confidence through her passion for her topic.

“My motivation came from my desire to get my message across. At the end of the day, I feel like speech is really about speaking from the heart and communicating with your audience. If you take the time to think about what you’re saying and put intention behind your words rather than going on autopilot when you speak, your performance becomes believable,” Vegara said.

Despite remaining distant when performing, the team as a whole has come closer than ever to motivate each other as explained by Salgado.

“Throughout the season, we would still have our weekly meetings and, typically in a normal year, we would use that time for announcements and [to] recognize everybody who placed at a tournament that past weekend. Apart from that, when we were in the state series just these past couple of weeks ago, some of us were in person and whenever we had free time, we were able to sit in the new wing and I think that was a great way to bring back what we used to do at regular tournaments,” Salgado said.
Salgado continued on how the team united together. “Although we’re physically apart, we still worked as a team in order to do our best in competitions.”

Despite the many obstacles that the speech team has faced over the course of the season, coach Matkovich believes one positive aspect is that resulted was the opportunity for all members to share their voice.

“The positive is that we were still able to have a season, students were still able to experience the wonders of speech and learning how to share their voice. This activity means so much to so many, and I’m proud of this community for preserving,” Matkovich said.