History in the Making: Chaminade’s Speech and Debate Team Captures Its First-Ever State Title

By Aidan Fitzgerald ‘18 and Chris Boccia ‘17

The past few years have seen consistently high performances from the Robert C. Wright Speech and Debate Team.  Amidst an increasingly competitive speech and debate scene, the team has continued to place at some of the biggest tournaments in the country.  School records are being set only to be broken the next year, all seemingly reaching its apex with team president John Michael Magloire’s (‘18) fifth place finish at last year’s National Speech and Debate Association’s National Tournament.  Following this unprecedented accomplishment, the team has been able to keep the momentum alive, enjoying a decorated season which culminated at the New York State Forensic League State Championship last weekend.

Bro. John McGrory, S.M. ‘84 and the Lincoln-Douglas Debate team composed of (l.-r.) Peter Vouthas ’20, Jack Valentino ’18, Daniel Hepworth ’18, Aidan Fitzgerald ’18, Christian Borusso ’18, John Michael Magloire ’18, Sean Lochner ’19, Rory Mahon ’18, Timothy Franz ’19 victoriously hold their sweepstakes award.

Meeting at Hofstra University in the early morning on Saturday, April 28, our speakers and debaters spent nearly twelve hours fiercely competing for a chance to advance to elimination rounds the next day.  Students competed across all the major events, including: Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, Congressional Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, Declamation, Humorous Interpretation, Original Oratory, Program of Oral Interpretation, Oral Interpretation, and Dramatic Interpretation.  All said and done, the team sent 52 speakers and debaters to the tournament, all of whom had to qualify earlier this year by placing highly at two local tournaments.  The team joined forces with Kellenberg Memorial at the end of the day to celebrate a mass, courtesy of Fr. Thomas Cardone, S. M. ‘73, of Kellenberg.  Shortly afterward, those students who had advanced to the next day learned of their success, and prepared for elimination rounds.

Speech president Patrick Johnson ’17 advanced in both of his events.  He placed 5th in the state in Original Oratory and was a semifinalist in Program of Oral Interpretation.  Other speakers excelled in their events as well. Conor Lynch ’17 made it to quarterfinals in Original Oratory, and Alex Caperelli ‘17 and Ed Doran ‘18 were quarterfinalists in Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking.  Additionally, Josef Schindler ‘20 was a quarterfinalist in JV Extemporaneous Speaking.

In debate, most of our competitors advanced to elimination rounds; in particular, our novices this year performed very strongly.  Four novice public forum teams advanced: the team of John O’Hara ‘20 and Frank Stigliano ‘19 (double-octofinalists), Paul Caruso ‘20 and Joseph Saladino ‘20 (octofinalists), Will Fuschillo ‘19 and Robert Germano ‘19 (octofinalists), and Brett Dobert ‘20 and Shane McCabe ‘20 (quarterfinalists).  In Intermediate Public Forum, James Russo ‘19 and Miles Ventura ‘19 were double-octofinalists.  Lastly, in Varsity Public Forum, captains Thomas Flatley ‘18 and Rohan Sasso ‘18 were octofinalists.

The whole team smiles together just after their historic win proudly holding their awards.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate is where the team really shone.  In Novice Lincoln-Douglas, Peter Vouthas ‘20 and Charles Weiler ‘20 were octofinalists, and Christian Borusso ‘19 made it all the way to the final round, which he lost on a 2-1 decision, giving him the distinction of second in the state.  In Intermediate Lincoln-Douglas, Tim Franz ‘19 reached quarterfinals, and Rory Mahon ‘18 and Jack Valentino ‘18 were octofinalists.  Lastly, in Varsity Lincoln-Douglas, captain Aidan Fitzgerald ‘18 placed fifth in the state, and debate president John Michael Magloire placed third in the state.

At the end of the awards ceremony, the much anticipated sweepstakes awards were announced for best schools in Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas, Congress, Speech, and Overall Speech and Debate.  Following its dominant team performance across all divisions, Chaminade received first place in Lincoln-Douglas debate, making the Flyers the best LD team in the state, its first state title.

“From the beginning of the year, my goal for the LD team was to become first in the state. Because of everyone’s hard work, we were able to achieve that goal.  I couldn’t be more proud of the team and cannot wait to see how we do at nationals,” reflected John Michael.

This accomplishment was an emotional moment for the team, highlighted by Bro. John McGrory, S.M. ‘84, who said, “After seeing just how hard the team worked for this award, and how much they wanted it, it was absolutely thrilling to see their hard work pay off with this big of an honor.”

This outstanding feat ended the season on a high note for much of the team; however, two tournaments still remain for certain speakers and debaters. For those Flyers who have qualified, the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament and National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament will take place Memorial Day weekend and the third week of June respectively. After claiming the state title, the Flyers are eager to put their best foot forward in these competitions and live up to their most recent performance.