Concordia’s speech team sees success in the hardest tournament of the year

The Concordia Courier

Concordia Irvine

By Leonard Memon | 1/20/2023

Concordia’s speech team competed at the Hell Froze Over swing tournament from Jan. 14 to Jan. 15 at the University of Texas at Austin. Despite the extremely high difficulty of the tournament, Concordia’s speech team found success. 

Blake Longfellow, director of individual events, was pleased with the speech team’s performance at the Hell Froze Over tournament. “This is one of the hardest tournaments in the country. In some ways it is harder than nationals, so to have a finalist is a really encouraging result for our prospects at nationals,” Longfellow said, adding, “All of our students worked hard in preparation and they represented Concordia well.”

Rebekah Mehrley, senior and captain of the speech team, agreed. She said, “At such a highly competitive tournament like this, I am delighted by this success!”

One of the big successes of the tournament was Mehrley, who was a finalist in Program Oral Interpretation (POI). Laura Gibson, freshman on the speech team, said, “It was so exciting to see the day two POI final round as our very own Rebekah Mehrley broke!” “Broke” is the term used in speech to describe making it to the elimination rounds.

Longfellow also congratulated Mehrley on breaking into the semifinal rounds of extemporaneous speaking on both days of the tournament.

Mehrley also wanted to highlight some of the hard work that the speech team has been putting into improving their speaking skills. She highlighted the incomprehensible amount of practice that Gibson has been putting into her events. “I am especially proud of the fact that Laura Gibson worked so hard over winter break and this past week to bring a new event (informative speaking) to this tournament,” said Mehrley.


With the forensics national season approaching, Concordia’s speech team has one goal: Improve. 

Longfellow said, “Throughout the tournament, I ask students what they've learned so far and their answers this weekend were very insightful. The trophies are nice, but we're always just focused on getting a little better every round. If we can consistently improve eventually it will be us taking home championships.”

Mehrley agreed by saying, “Our goals are to constantly better ourselves and our events, as well as to bring home team sweepstakes awards for Concordia. The best way to do all of this is to get good feedback to know what we're doing well and how to improve.”

Gibson echoed Longfellow and Mehrley’s sentiment by saying, “The speech team’s competitive goals for the 2023 spring semester are to learn a lot, build our team, make connections and bring home a few pieces of hardware.”

While the speech team has done well and will hopefully only continue to improve, the greatest parts of being on the speech team have nothing to do with speech. While it may seem trite, it is true. The greatest part of this activity is the camaraderie. 

Mehrley said, “My favorite parts of these trips are the little moments we get to share as a team, whether it's banter between coaches and competitors or getting to look out into the audience and see your teammates there cheering you on. It's a blessing not only to be on a strong team, but to be on one that clearly enjoys being around each other.”

Speech has a positive and lasting impact on those who participate in it. Gibson enthused, “I cannot express how much forensics has changed my life for the better. The speech community is so supportive of each other and it’s just such a great time. If you love theater, performing, talking, meeting new people, and learning new things, I highly, highly, highly recommend joining speech.”

Mehrley encouraged students who are on the fence about participating in collegiate speech events by saying, “If you're at all interested and are willing to take up the challenge of letting yourself be stretched, tested, and grown, go for it!”

If you have any questions about joining the speech team, contact Blake Longfellow, the director of individual events, at

If you would like to meet in-person, Longfellow remarked, “It's a low-risk, high-reward opportunity. Swing by our team room on the second floor of Rho and I'll be happy to walk you through the different events and opportunities we have for scholarships, networking, travel, lifelong friends and more!”



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