In March, Utah State University’s Speech and Debate team won its third national title at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.
This is Tom Worthen’s 37th year as the unpaid Speech and Debate coach and he runs a program that receives no budgeted money from USU.
“I do appreciate the President’s office has helped us out,” Worthen says, “and the Dean’s office and our department chair. It’s just that we’re not guaranteed that as an item in the budget.”
Coach Worthen said only Utah and Utah State sponsor speech and debate teams in-state, but the Aggies don’t offer scholarships.
“We don’t get the top students that were state champions that go to a school because they can get a scholarship, because we don’t have that funding. So, a lot of time we just pull people out of my classes, some of them have had high school experience.”
Aggie debaters Sam Hendricks and Chantelle Gossner earned the top two spots in the open division, the top division of debate competition.
Other USU debaters who placed in the tournament were Rachael McDonald, Zoe Hall, Brock Redman and Kaleb Webb.
“We do it for the passion, because we love it, and it’s good for the university,” said Worthen. “Often the best educational activity many students receive is outside the classroom and these students are prepared for a lot of things in the world as they go forward.”