Vocal Vikings speech team prepares to host annual tournament

The Vocal Vikings will host as many as a dozen other colleges and universities at their annual Speech on The Beach tournament this month.

Speech on the Beach has two tournaments the weekend of Feb. 21-23, making it a swing tournament. With this tournament being close to nationals, it is the last chance for some students to qualify for nationals, according to Sarah Contreras, Del Mar’s director of forensics.

Contreras said she keeps the tournament on a strict schedule with debates on current topics, informative and persuasive speeches, and oral interpretation. 

The team also competed against 16 two- and four-year colleges including Rice University, the University of Texas and others at a tournament the weekend of Feb. 8-9 at Texas State University, returning with several awards.

Contreras, who is also the adviser for the Vocal Vikings, has competed in speech tournaments since she was in junior high. She was going to school to become a high school teacher but decided in her last year of college to teach at the college level instead.

Contreras got her first experience coaching a speech team when she was hired at Texas State University as a graduate student. Once she started teaching at Del Mar College, she formed the Vocal Vikings in 1998. 

“I thoroughly believe in this activity as a team builder. It teaches my students leadership, it teaches them communication skills, it gives them exposure to other colleges and universities,” Contreras said. “It allows them to learn how to organize their thoughts and present their thoughts which helps them in college when they are writing papers or doing research.”

Contreras said when her students leave, they walk away confidence, the ability to approach individuals and leadership qualities.

Natasha Perez, Student Government Association president, said she learned several important skills where she was a Vocal Viking. 

“Specifically, I’ve learned what it takes to be a good public speaker and not only that just how to operate in a professional setting,” Perez said 

Perez said she even applies her impromptu skills in her professional setting as SGA president.

Kendall Messer has learned various skills since becoming a leader of the Vocal Viking such as key networking, research and more. 

“Through becoming a co-captain I have learned how to motivate people when they do not believe in themselves, as well as knowing peoples strengths and applying those strengths toward activities,” Messer said.

For more information on the Vocal Vikings email Contreras at slcontrer@delmar.edu.

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