In late 2017, two years after I had moved on from speech activities, I missed it enough to bring it to Michigan State. After what was only a lunch conversation with a friend, I realized that there were enough resources at MSU to host an invitational tournament for high school students involved in the Michigan Interscholastic Forensics Association. The road ahead was incredibly intimidating. I would need to drum up interest of current MSU students to start a registered organization, secure a large performance space + 50 classrooms for a Saturday, and convince as many high school coaches as possible to bring their students.
On March 23rd, 2018 we hosted a tournament that saw nearly 250 high school students from over 20 different schools compete. After founding and leading the club, Spartan Speech, we were able to receive a grant from the University that covered all the costs of the tournament. With this grant we rented the largest building on campus, purchased awards for the champions of the tournament, and served lunch to all of the adults and coaches who dedicate so much time to their students.
On February 23rd, 2019 we hosted the tournament again and saw over 500 high school students from over 25 different schools compete. Including staff and parents, this meant we hosted around 800 people successfully; allowing for us to be the largest tournament in the state of Michigan.
On February 22nd, 2020 just weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak, we hosted the third ever “Spartanvitational” and saw over 600 high schoolers compete from over 35 schools. This turnout made us the largest competitive public speaking competition in the state of Michigan. We received incredible support from the university, recognition by the student government, and our club membership grew to 50+ Spartans.
As for my role, I served as the team’s founder and president—fronting money for the tournament, leading the team in planning efforts and directing the event itself. I organized weekly meetings for the team where we had open-ended discussions about how to increase engagement and grow the event as well as better the experience for students.