The Moffat County High School Speech and Debate Program can add yet another accolade to its impressive resume.
The team received recognition from the National Forensic League for achieving 100 degrees or more in the last year and placing in the top 10 percent of NFL chapters nationwide.
And earning 100 degrees is no easy feat.
Students receive six points for a win and three points for a loss in an event at a competition.
Twenty-five points equals one degree, 75 points equals two degrees, 150 points equals three degrees, 250 points equals four degrees, 500 points equals five degrees, 750 points equals six degrees, 1,000 points equals seven degrees and 1,500 points equals eight degrees.
“It’s a really nice honor," said Casey Kilpatrick, a teacher at MCHS and coach for the team. "It just speaks to the success of our program and amount of work the kids put into it."
Kilpatrick said eight degrees is the maximum amount any student can earn during the year.
“In order to earn over 100 degrees, we need a large, highly competitive team that earns tons of points,” Kilpatrick said.
The season for speech and debate is just getting started. The club had an informational meeting Wednesday, and Kilpatrick said 22 students showed up.
He said two returning seniors, Matt Balderston and Ben East, who have been involved for four years will help earn the team eight degrees a piece this year.
“They’re in the top ten as far as points go for the entire state of Colorado,” Kilpatrick said. “They could have had more points but we had such a strong team, they were getting beat by our own members.”
Last year MCHS’s team had two of the top performing seniors in the state.
“We have a winning culture here and expectations to win,” Kilpatrick said.
His first year as head coach, Kilpatrick spent the last two as assistant coach to Eric Hansen.
Laurie Cotten, a junior on the team, said it's surprising how successful the team is considering how small they are.
"Yeah," said Balderston. "George Washington HIgh School and Cherry Creek High School, (usually very successful teams,) qualify as many kids to state as we have on our entire team."
But as the students of the MCHS speech and debate team stood in front of a case of trophies the team had won, Tiffany Lingo, a sophomore member, said she's heard students ask what the trophies are even for.
But that doesn't deter members from working hard to add to the trophy case.
"The community is mostly athletics based," Balderston said. "Which I think is funny because we are quite fantastic," he said with a smile.
“Kid’s are putting in the work that it takes to win," Kilpatrick said. "There are tons of opportunities at different levels of competition.”
Students have the chance to travel to Utah, Wyoming, California and sometimes Vegas to compete.
Students spend at least four hours every week practicing for competitions, and Kilpatrick said some spend 20 plus hours a week spending time working on and researching their pieces.
That’s all outside of competition, which can be an eight- to 12-hour day.
“It’s a lot of work," Kilpatrick said. "Aside from a winning culture, we’ve established a culture where kids expect to work because we’ve got a reputation to maintain.”
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org