America’s Best: Speech and Debate Team Wins 31 Awards at National Championship


DVC’s award-winning Speech and Debate team. Photo courtesy of DVC’s Robert Hawkins.

Diablo Valley College’s Speech and Debate team brought home 31 awards from the Phi Rho Pi Forensics National Championship held in St. Louis, Mo., on April 3-9. Three students from DVC were among the top five nationally awarded speakers.

The team also picked up a bronze medal in combined individual events, a gold in debate, and a silver in the overall competition, affirming the school’s longtime reputation as a nationwide leader in the debating arena.
This is the third year in a row that DVC Speech and Debate has placed in the top three among American community colleges for overall sweepstakes at the national championship.

The DVC team has also held the rank of Northern California Champion in the community college circuit for five of the past six years – and has been California state champion for the past two consecutive years.

DVC forged its presence in competitive speech and debate as early as the 1960s. In more recent years, a combination of dedicated coaches and stellar students has helped DVC “usher in a new generation of success,” said Robert Hawkins, chair of the Communication Studies Department and one of the head coaches of the Speech and Debate team.

Hawkins attributed DVC’s ongoing success at the state and national level to three components: institutional support, coaching staff, and, most importantly, the students.

A second-year veteran in Speech and Debate, Lindsey Barrows, credited the team’s achievements to its committed and compassionate coaches.

“The coaches are very student-oriented,” allowing current students to thrive while also attracting future talent, said Barrows.

The DVC program has a proven track record of grooming students for life after community college. According to Hawkins, nearly all of the students who join the team transfer to four-year institutions – including some of the state’s most high-ranking universities.

“They go to the big schools: UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis,” he said.

Barrows summed up her experience on the team, saying, “It was never about the competition. It was about being able to try and fail and have it be okay.”

She added, “I didn’t have to win in a conventional way to still gain from the experience, and I’ll always take that lesson with me.”