Butte College’s Speech and Debate Team: Twists, Turns, and Triumphs at Hornet Cup!

The team demonstrated resilience, passion, and excellence.

Over the past weekend, I had the honor of joining Butte College’s Speech and Debate team as we competed at the Hornet Cup hosted by Sacramento State. Despite encountering some twists and turns along the way, we managed to conclude the weekend on a high note with a total of 35 awards!

From captivating dramatic interpretations to comedic after-dinner speeches, Butte College dazzled and triumphed in a multitude of categories.

As a newcomer to the team this semester,  I embarked on this journey with both uncertainty and excitement. As a community organizer, I viewed this as an opportunity to refine my public speaking skills while using competitive platforms to shed light on the issues closest to my heart. Thanks to the exemplary standards set by my teammates and my determination to meet their level of excellence, I was fortunate enough to secure first place in my first two tournaments, focusing on the critical issue of “Islamophobia In The West.”

For those who haven’t had the chance to witness our team’s performances firsthand, allow me to share some highlights from the individuals who have served as both my inspiration and pillars of support.

Abel Chavez: Poetry & Oral Interpretation

Abel Chavez at The Hornet Cup (Photo taken by Butte College Speech & Debate Team)

Abel Chavez, a second-semester member of the Forensics team, is set to graduate this semester with a major in communications. This past weekend, Abel won an impressive total of four awards, notably securing two first-place victories in poetry and oral interpretation. His winning pieces artfully delve into issues closely tied to his Mexican-American identity, showcasing Abel’s unmistakable passion for these topics through his performances.

His first-place poetry piece explored the struggles of identity and self-image among Latino males. According to Abel, “Issues that weigh on Latino men are things like colorism and the unhealthy beauty standards imposed on men as a whole.”

He reflects, “I recall growing up as a Latino and yearning to shed many of the ethnic features that labeled me as such. I longed to resemble the actors and models portrayed in the media, and I diminished my own self-image because it didn’t align with theirs. My poetry piece holds a special place for me because it reflects personal struggles I’ve faced in the past. I aim to ensure that others who share similar feelings don’t feel isolated, and hopefully, they too can recognize the beauty inherent in their ethnic and distinctive features.”

His first-place oral interpretation piece primarily focused on Latino males and how they succumb to the detrimental environments surrounding them.

He explains, “Issues such as drugs, gangs, and violence often plague the lives of many Latino men. I witnessed these problems primarily within my own family, which served as inspiration for this piece. I’ve always drawn inspiration from Latino media and the enduring portrayal of gang culture in classic Latino films from the ’90s, as these themes still resonate today. What we fail to grasp is that the lives of these Latinos are frequently constrained by the absence of a support system within a deeply entrenched system of racism that permeates our local governments, schools, and society as a whole.”

Julia Irvine: Dramatic Interpretation & After Dinner Speaking

Julia Irvine at The Hornet Cup (Photo taken by Butte College Speech & Debate Team )

Julia Irvine’s first place winning speeches captivated audiences with her poignant explorations of complex societal issues intertwined with personal narratives and humor.

In her Dramatic Interpretation (DI), she delved into the themes of identity and purpose, challenging the audience to reevaluate the conventional notions of self-worth tied to career choices and life events. Through the story of a mother grappling with the loss of a pregnancy, Irvine masterfully depicted the struggles of navigating one’s identity amidst adversity. As the protagonist confronts her own sense of purpose, the audience is invited to reflect on their own journeys, questioning the singular pursuit of a predefined purpose and instead emphasizing the multifaceted nature of human existence. Irvine’s DI serves as a thought-provoking exploration of resilience and self-discovery, leaving a lasting impact on audiences.

In her After Dinner speech, Irvine tackled the issue of heightism with a blend of humor and sincerity. Addressing the societal stereotypes surrounding short stature and the alarming trend of leg lengthening surgeries, she shed light on the serious consequences of such discrimination. Through witty commentary and insightful observations, Irvine highlighted the psychological toll of heightism on individuals, emphasizing the importance of social acceptance and support for height diversity. With a mix of levity and advocacy, she endeavored to raise awareness about the struggles faced by short men while advocating for societal change.

Irvine’s after-dinner speech succeeded in fostering empathy and understanding while urging audiences to reconsider their attitudes towards height, making a compelling case for greater inclusivity and compassion.

Kyle Landrum: Extemporaneous and Persuasive

Kyle Landrum at The Hornet Cup (Photo taken by Butte College Speech & Debate Team )


Kyle Landrum, a seasoned member of the team in his third semester, is set to graduate this spring with a major in political science. At the latest tournament, Kyle’s prowess shone brightly as he clinched four awards, including two first-place accolades in extemporaneous and persuasive speaking. Both of his winning pieces draw from his deep understanding of politics and its profound impact on society.

In the realm of Extemporaneous speaking, where speakers are tasked with crafting a 7-minute speech based on a given political prompt within a 30-minute timeframe, Kyle’s adept handling of the prompt “what can the United States learn from the war on drugs?” stood out.

He chose to dissect the issue of drug addiction, advocating for comprehensive education, widespread decriminalization, and effective rehabilitation as key strategies. Reflecting on his speech, Kyle emphasized the significance of the topics he addresses, stating, “A lot of people just aren’t educated on this kind of stuff. Frankly, it’s just too boring for most people, but it’s also so, so very important. So yeah, I love doing what little I can to learn and teach up and down the state as we go from tournament to tournament.”

In his first-place persuasive speech, Kyle turned his focus to the conditions of California’s prison labor force, shedding light on the plight of prisoners who are coerced into unpaid and unrecognized labor under threat of punishment. He highlights the pervasive presence of prison labor in everyday products and services, uncovering the unsettling reality of corporate interests benefiting from what essentially amounts to slave labor.

Kyle’s speech not only exposes the injustice inherent in the system but also offers hope for change, citing a bill circulating in California’s legislative committee aimed at ending involuntary servitude. While optimistic about progress in California, Kyle acknowledges the long road ahead for nationwide reform.

Jack Abdulaziz and Abel Chavez: Duo

Jack Abdulaziz & Abel Chavez at The Hornet Cup (Photo taken by Butte College Speech & Debate Team )

Jack Abdulaziz and Abel Chavez, both in their second semesters, form a dynamic duo whose individual speeches delve into the experiences of Arab and Latino communities respectively. Their combined performance not only showcased their shared passion for social justice but also highlighted the intersectionality of issues such as toxic masculinity.

Jack, reflecting on their recent success at Butte College, describe their piece as a poignant exploration of the societal standards imposed on men and the ensuing battles they face. With a blend of humor and seriousness, they confront the expectations of masculinity and challenge the notion that it must be upheld constantly. Through their performance, Jack and Abel aim to address a topic seldom discussed, garnering positive reactions and fostering dialogue around the subject.

Abel, on the other hand, emphasizes the central theme of toxic masculinity in their duo piece, drawing from their respective Arabic and Latino backgrounds to underscore the pervasive nature of this issue. Their goal is to dismantle the cycle of toxic masculinity and advocate for gender equality. Through a combination of humor, poetic readings, and diverse literary sources, they seek to engage their audience and persuade them to envision a world where men and women coexist as equals.

Together, Jack and Abel utilize their platform to challenge patriarchal norms and promote inclusivity and unity between the sexes. Their duo performance not only sheds light on the struggles faced by men in society but also underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in fostering positive change.

Alondra Swangler: Novice Prose

Alandra Swangler at The Hornet Cup (Photo taken by Butte College Speech & Debate Team )

Alandra Swangler, a first-semester member, captivated the audience with her winning performance in novice prose. Despite majoring in biological sciences, her prowess lies in crafting compelling narratives.

Her victory underscores her adeptness in constructing speeches from published works, deftly navigating narrative arcs, character development, and dialogue. Alondra’s rendition seamlessly blends drama and poignancy, earning her first place in the event.

Her chosen piece, a story depicting the intricate dynamics of love, jealousy, and revenge between twin sisters, holds personal significance as it mirrors the complexities of adult sibling relationships. Through her speech, Alondra sheds light on the often unspoken but deeply felt competition between siblings, while emphasizing the underlying love and loyalty that binds them together.

Madisen Wieland: Novice Informative

Madisen Wieland at The Hornet Cup (Photo taken by Butte College Speech & Debate Team )

Madisen, a computer science major with an emphasis in game design, joins Butte for her first semester. Despite being new to the college’s team, she brings experience from competing in Speech and Debate at her previous school.

Her informative speech delves into a groundbreaking new method for detecting cancer earlier. Inspired by her grandmother’s decade-long battle with cancer, Madisen sought to explore innovative approaches to mitigate the impact of this disease on individuals.

Recognizing the prevalence of cancer in media and its profound effects on countless lives, Madisen sheds light on a novel device designed to identify cancer at an early stage, potentially offering individuals more time to pursue their aspirations and reducing the burdens of cancer treatment.

Grand Total

Official Butte College Instagram Recap of The Hornet Cup (Butte College Instagram)


As highlighted by the official Butte College Instagram Team: Our amazing speech and debate team has done it again! They cleaned up at the Hornet Cup Tournament hosted by Sacramento State University. Sixteen of our students competed and brought home 35 individual awards!

Together, the Butte College Speech and Debate team demonstrated resilience, passion, and excellence as their remarkable achievements underscore the team’s commitment to advocacy, performance, and community engagement.

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About the Contributor
Shaheera Abbasi
Shaheera Abbasi, Staff Writer
Shaheera is a third-year International Relations major whose writing aims to raise awareness on South West Asian North African and South Asian cultures and communities.
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