A growing dynasty: OCC Speech and Debate

Orange Coast College is home to the most successful community college speech and debate team.

“We do it all, and we do all of it pretty well,” said Shauhin Davari, director of individual events for the OCC Speech and Debate team. “We’ve set a record for the number of state and national championships won overall.” 

The Speech and Debate team also holds the longest streak of national championships won in a row by any community college in history, with four successive trophies from 2015 to 2018.

OCC’s club competes at what’s called “large schools,” which is the highest level of community college competition.

“We win gold medals every year across all different types of categories – we are a full-service squad,” Davari said.

Involved with OCC’s Speech and Debate team since 2005, Davari makes sure to balance the winning culture with a nurturing spirit.

“The coaches care about you so much,” said Noella Pacheco, a first-year team member. “They always make sure you’re doing okay, as well as help you become a better person.” 

With an emphasis on self-coaching through practice, repetition, and independence, the Speech and Debate team is able to develop talent at all levels.

“The coaches made me realize that maybe I should practice something I’m scared of,” said Yuna Wantanabe, a brand new team member. “The coaches are super supportive and give me great feedback.”

Speech and Debate also fosters valuable habits, in addition to training championship-level public speakers.

“This isn’t just an opportunity to become a better public speaker, you also learn so much about socially significant issues,” said Ashley Lindsay, a three-year team member. “I’m a whole different person. This club has taught me about how important it is to be empathetic and compassionate.” 

As cheery as the Speech and Debate team’s chemistry is, there are also serious benefits to being members of the club.

“The coolest part about speech and debate isn’t just the medals we win,” Davari said. “It’s looking at how many of our students transfer with scholarships.”

According to Davari, Speech and Debate students have accumulated over $300,000 in scholarships over the last five years.

“Two years ago we had two students transfer on full-ride scholarships,” Davari said. “That doesn’t even come close to the number of students who transferred with large amounts of fee waivers.”

Davari is adamant that everyone should try their hand in speech and debate.

“If you want to get better at public speaking, debate or become a more well-rounded individual, we’re for you,” Davari said. “At the end of the day, we are an open-enrollment team.” 

The Speech and Debate team will look to add a couple more medals to their collection in the near future. The will compete in the California State Championship tournament this week.

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