Ben Shellhorn is a force in speech competitions. This year, his competitive nature landed him in the grand-daddy of all speech tournaments the national tournament.
The National Speech Tournament will be June 10-16 in Portland, Ore. Kip Holdridge and Nubia Martinez also qualified and will compete in the tournament.
A senior, Shellhorn placed in practically all competitions he entered during the year. At the Colorado State Competition, he was a semifinalist in original oratory and placed fifth in international extemporaneous speaking, the event he will compete in at nationals.
Last year, Shellhorn was an alternate to nationals. With this being his last chance to compete, Shellhorn sees the challenge as "a treat."
"I am excited because it is nationals the single most important, prestigious tournament. Period. It is exciting to qualify to such an exclusive event," Shellhorn said.
His event, international extemporaneous speaking, tests the knowledge of competitors in current affairs from countries around the globe. The trick to this event is competitors do not know topics until one-half hour before they are to speak. Competitors draw three topics at random and prepare. Speeches are seven minutes and are presented without notes, but with evidence and sources.
"In order to succeed, I have to remain calm and act as though it is just another tournament. Preparation, practice and perception will be the key. Still, I am competing against the best of the best; I guess it is an honor," said Shellhorn. "I will feel complete shock. My mind will have plotted out every possible outcome for every possible circumstance by then, but psychologically, I will be in shock."
The national tournament is set up so every round counts toward the final results, so good preliminary scores are a must, Shellhorn said.
His success has a spiritual connotation.
"I attribute a lot of my success to God. I don't want to sound 'super-spiritual,' but I just ask and I receive. Also, my coach, Mrs. Grimes is a huge help. My assistant coach and youth pastor, Troy Lewis, has made an incredible impact on my life, both in and out of speech. I guess everything else is left up to me," Shellhorn said.
When the airplane touches down in Portland, Shellhorn doesn't think he will want to come back. He is confident in his and his teammate's ability to succeed.
"I think I have a chance at advancing, but it isn't granted. Kip and Nubia both have good chances of advancing as well. Kip's drama is totally original and that always adds edge. Nubia's delivery is almost always dead-on.
"Not that any of our success will be guaranteed," Shellhorn said.
Winning the coveted national championship prayer will depend on a lot of things for Shellhorn.
"There are so many qualities that equate to national champions. I think everyone of us has those, it is just when we call on them," he said.
Shellhorn will attend Colorado College this fall in Colorado Springs. He is unsure whether he will continue to compete in speech at the college level, but said the school does have a strong speech program.
For now, Shellhorn has sights set on nationals and graduation.
To help fund the trip to nationals, the speech team will sponsor a garage sale May 20 in the Moffat County Courthouse annex.