Category: Tournaments Page 1 of 2

Barkley Forum Preview

by James Mohan

James Mohan competed for Danville High School in Danville, Kentucky.  He was the 2010 Barkley Forum extemp champion, a runner-up at CFL Nationals and NFL Nationals in International Extemporaneous Speaking, last year’s Kentucky state champion in extemporaneous speaking and congressional debate, was a finalist at the George Mason University Patriot Games Tournament, an invitee to the 2010 Montgomery Bell Extemp Round Robin, and last year’s National Points Race runner-up .  He currently attends Georgetown University, where he is majoring in international affairs.

The Barkley Forum for High Schools has become one of the top extemp tournaments in the country, and the field is always competitive.

So I have been asked to provide my thoughts on the tournament, and my advice is pretty simple:

George Mason University Patriot Games Tournament Preview

by Oscar Wang

Oscar Wang competed for four years at San Marino High School in San Marino, California. He received third place in Domestic Extemp at the 2010 NFL Nationals and was a four-year qualifier to Nationals. Last year, he placed second at the California State Championships, second at the GMU Patriot Games, third at the TOC, and seventh at the MBA Southern Bell Forum. Over the course of his career, he accumulated over twenty tournament victories. His team, San Marino, finished first overall for the National Teams Points Race in 2010 while he placed fifth for the Individual Points Race. Oscar is currently studying political science and history at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Every year, there are a plethora of high school speech and debate invitationals held at various colleges and universities across the country. Many of these tournaments feature quality competition, gorgeous campuses, and (hopefully) beautiful weather. These invitationals are generally well attended because of what competitors see that they offer – everything ranging from the food to the location. However, what separates the great tournaments from the awesometastic* tournaments is what happens behind the scenes with running the entire show. (*Note: I believe Sarah Palin has given every American the right to combine two words that mean the same thing to form a new word that still means the same thing, so I have done so here)

A Look ‘Round the GMU Round Robin

by Aaron Lutkowitz

Aaron Lutkowitz competed for Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to victories at the 2008 George Mason tournament and the 2009 Yale tournament, Aaron finished in 3rd place at the 2010 Southern Bell Forum and went undefeated in the preliminary rounds of the 2009 George Mason Round Robin, where he placed second.  He was also a top ten finisher in last year’s National Points Race.  Aaron co-attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University with plans to major in business and political science.

MY HISTORY

I love GMIF, and I always enjoyed competing in its round robin. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the institute, the camp, the staff, the Round Robin, the tournament, etc. I went to the summer camp all three summers of high school, and I send all the MBA youngins’ there too. At the tournament my junior year, I went 3-4 in 7 prelim rounds (tying 5 other competitors) and managed to earn 3rd place on individual ballot pick-ups. I then went on to win the tournament two days later. My senior year, I went 7-0 in prelims, but lost the final round 0-5. I then continued this trend to an early exit in quarters in the regular tournament. Emily B, Joe, Catherine, Ben, Emily M, Jason, Alex, and Nabeel, congrats on making the tournament. I hope to articulate the ins-and-outs of the Round Robin for you.

Glenbrooks Preview by Steven Elliott

Steven Elliott competed for Lakeville North High School for four years. He was an NCFL Extemp Finalist in 2008, a three time Minnesota state finalist, the champion of the Glenbrooks in 2009, and placed 4th in International Extemp at last year’s National Tournament. He was also a participant in the 2010 MBA round-robin. Steven attends American University in Washington, DC where he is majoring in International Studies.

The Glenbrooks is one of the most competitive national circuit tournaments of the year, and was always one of my personal favorites. During my senior year, I discovered that the tournament also has a few…rather odd features that are worth addressing, as they affect one’s strategy going into the event.  Without further adieu, here are some of the more unique things you’ll face at the Glenbrooks:

St. Marks Heart of Texas Invitational Preview by Shahid Ahmed

Shahid Ahmed competed for Plano Senior High School in Plano, Texas.  Last year Shahid was the ninth place finisher in International Extemp at the NFL National Tournament, placed third at the Harvard, was a participant in the Montgomery Bell Extemp Round Robin, and made finals in United States and International Extemp at St. Marks.  Shahid was also a top fifteen finisher in last year’s Extemp Central National Points Race.  Shahid currently attends Texas A&M and is majoring in economics and international studies.

The St. Marks Heart of Texas Invitational is the premier extemporaneous speaking tournament in Texas. I first went to St. Marks my junior year participating in Congress (ughhhhhhhh). It wasn’t until my senior year that I competed in extemp at St. Marks. While St. Marks is not Harvard or Yale or NFLs, it has a vast pool of seasoned competitors from a plethora of powerhouse schools from many different states. St. Marks, for the most part is similar to most other national tournaments, though there are some striking differences. I have some pointers for general extempers and for those specifically attending St. Marks.

The Yale Invitational Tournament Preview

by Aaron Lutkowitz

Aaron Lutkowitz competed for Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to victories at the 2008 George Mason tournament and the 2009 Yale tournament, Aaron finished in 3rd place at the 2010 Southern Bell Forum and went undefeated in the preliminary rounds of the 2009 George Mason Round Robin.  He was also a top ten finisher in last year’s National Points Race.  Aaron co-attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University with plans to major in business and political science.

While Wake was always my first tournament of the year for three consecutive years (with diminishing returns each year), Yale was my one-hit wonder. It wasn’t even on my radar until a few months before senior year, but I’m extremely glad that I ventured up north to see friends and dip my competitive feet into the deeper end of quality extemp. I have a few tips, both for tournaments in general and for the Yale tournament specifically.

Wake Forest National Early Bird Preview

by Rohan Bhargava

Rohan Bhargava competed for Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio. He was last year’s runner up at Wake Forest, a semifinalist at The Glenbrooks, and an invitee to the Montgomery Bell Academy Round Robin. Rohan was the Ohio State Runner Up in 2008 and the State Champion in 2009 and 2010 in international extemp. He broke three consecutive times at NFL Nationals, finishing twelfth in 2009 and third last season. Rohan will attend Princeton University this fall to pursue a degree in molecular biology with a certificate in finance.

NFL Nationals Strategy by Stacey Chen (Part Two)

Stacey Chen competed for North Allegheny High School in Wexford, Pennsylvania.  She was last year’s NFL national champion in International extemp and was the first receipient of the Extemp Central National Points award after winning Glenbrooks, the George Mason University Patriot Games Extemp Round Robin, Harvard, and the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions.  Stacey now attends Yale University and is a contributor for Extemp Central.  She shares her thoughts on the NFL National tournament in this article for Extemp Central readers.

NFL Nationals Strategy by Stacey Chen (Part One)

Stacey Chen competed for North Allegheny High School in Wexford, Pennsylvania.  She was last year’s NFL national champion in International extemp and was the first receipient of the Extemp Central National Points award after winning Glenbrooks, the George Mason University Patriot Games Extemp Round Robin, Harvard, and the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions.  Stacey now attends Yale University and is a contributor for Extemp Central.  She shares her thoughts on the NFL National tournament in this article for Extemp Central readers.

The Glenbrooks 2009 Preview

exfilesglenbrooks-01by Stacey Chen

The Glenbrooks is one of the largest tournaments of the year in both speech and debate events, as well as one of the most fun! Extemp at Glenbrooks generally contains a fairly large and diverse pool of extempers from across the country. It is also “mixed” extemp, which may be different for extempers who come from districts that regularly split between “domestic” and “international” extemp. Although the size and quality of the field, as well as a possible switch to combined extemp, can be intimidating, there are a few things you can do to prepare well for the tournament and enjoy the experience rather than stressing out.

Preparation for the Glenbrooks was pretty standard for me because my district did not split between USX and IX. The rounds at Glenbrooks alternate between foreign and domestic topic areas, so it is important to prepare for both types of questions equally. Be sure to read and file articles from major publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, etc as usual. Many questions will be drawn from the headlines of these papers in the few weeks leading up to the tournament. On the domestic front, it is also useful to find smaller regional papers for more specific issues (e.g. The Denver Post, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, etc). For international issues, also try to include source diversity with articles from news sources like Der Spiegel, AllAfrica.com, The South China Morning Post, The Council on Foreign Relations, etc. These publications should give you a solid base of background knowledge and recent events; for more advanced extempers, delving into journals ranging from Foreign Affairs to Current History to The Washington Quarterly will provide you with a deeper theoretical knowledge for analysis. If you are just beginning to extemp or do not have enough time to devote to searching for journal articles, however, it may be much more beneficial to focus on covering major newspapers first. Although it is always helpful to have detailed and specific articles, do not waste time on obscure happenings in, say, Moldova, when you could be bolstering your Iran file.

Catching the Worm at the Wake Forest National Earlybird

wakeBy Max Webster[1]

After a summer of camps, workshops, practice speeches, and filing, it’s finally time to shake off the rust, hop back into your suit, and begin the ‘09/’10 season with the first tournament of the year: The Wake Forest National Earlybird. Wake was always my first tournament every year, and I can honestly say that it was one of my favorites. It’s well run, competitive, and located in a great college town. But like any tournament, there is much to Wake beneath the surface, which years of attendance and talking to former competitors will help you to uncover. I hope to provide some of that insight for you. I will share some of the quirks, secrets, and tricks of the tournament that I learned during my years at the Earlybird to help you maximize your potential for success and get the most out of what should be an enjoyable event for everyone. Many of the strategies and concepts I will discuss are also applicable to just about any tournament you attend, so you can use this article as a guide to aid in your preparations for other upcoming competitions as well.

The most important aspect of any tournament is your pre-tournament preparation. The weeks before a tournament that you spend getting your files in order and doing practice rounds with teammates or coaches are the best indicator of what kind of a tournament you’ll have. I truly believe that practice makes perfect and the work you put into extemp well before it’s show-time will pay off in big rounds when you can tackle an obscure question with ease or put a thoughtful and unique spin on a more commonplace question that will keep your judges attention throughout the round and land you the one. This mantra of hard work and preparation is particularly applicable to Wake Forest. During the much-needed summer respite from school, there is usually no coach or judicious teammate pressuring you to file and speak. But if you have been doing that work on your own, then it will certainly show at this tournament more than any other where you will have a huge leg-up on your competition.

Even if you haven’t had time to work a tremendous amount on extemp over the summer – don’t panic. You still have two weeks to put your preparation into over-drive.

Extemporaneous Speaking at NFL (NSDA) Nationals

questionsBy: Mark Royce[1]

The National Forensic League annual tournament is the largest, most prestigious, and most competitive high school speech and debate contest, as well as one of the greatest exhibitions of oratorical talent in the English-speaking world.  About two hundred competitors from across the country enter in one of the nine main events, and an epic sequence of elimination rounds over the course of an entire week determines the chosen few who shall perform in front of a sizable audience.  No other forensics tournament, the gilded podiums of the national circuit included, attracts the same measure of talent or bestows the same glory on its victors.  This year’s tournament will be held June 14-19 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Nationals is the hardest tournament, and this article is concerned specifically with the hardest event, Extemporaneous Speaking.  I write on the assumption that the reader is familiar with the format and terminology of extemp, and therefore we may concentrate our attention upon what is unique to the Nationals experience.  Categorization being prominent among the skills of extempers, past or present, I shall divide my composition into two main parts, the first providing a chronological guide to the ins and outs of the tournament, and the second disclosing a somewhat secret formula for constructing speeches based on the Nationals topic areas.

NSDA Roundtable

strategyThe NFL national tournament is where extemp legends are made.  With a format of thirteen rounds, two differentiated forms of extemp, three rounds of cross examination, a final round that takes place in front of hundreds of people, and $6,000 in scholarship money going to the winner, NFL is an experience unlike any other.

To provide a preview for this tournament, Extemp Central has brought together three national finalists to discuss their preparation for the tournament and the work that had to be done in the trenches to get them onto the national final stage.

NSDA National Tournament Psychology

strategyBy Omar Qureshi[1]

Nowhere will you find a bunch of 250 extempers more competitive than at the NFL National Tournament. There is not a competition that matches its size, depth, or prestige.

With emotions running high, there is no better piece of advice than to just relax. Regardless of how many people are there, the goal is still very much the same: to give the best extemp speech you can give every round. It is prudent to consider the tournament as something outside of you. It exists outside of your paper, pens, boxes, and the prep room. From the time you pick your topic to the time you give your speech, all that exists is the event. In that zone nothing else matters. It matters not how good the speeches were in your room. It matters only that yours is a dedicated reflection of your ability as an extemper.

MBA Roundtable

mba-round-robinThe Montgomery Bell Extemp Round Robin is a unique experience for those extempers who have attended it. For the participants that are getting ready to compete, as well as those extempers who one day aspire to compete in the tournament, The Ex Files has assembled a panel discussion of four extempers who have competed at the tournament over the last several years, including one overall tournament champion, David Tannenwald. This panel discusses their experiences at the tournament in the hope that competitors can learn more about how the tournament works, what they should expect in Nashville in a few weeks, and advice to extempers who won day hope to receive an MBA bid.

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