For the first time, the Moraine Valley Community College Speech and Debate Team competed virtually for an entire semester, earning two gold medals and one silver.

In their first virtual tournament in October, the team took second place, and they won gold in competitions in November and December. At the November contest, Moraine Valley took first by only five points over the University of Wisconsin.

Colleges and universities from the tristate area participated in these online tournaments using lapel microphones, ring lights and laptop cameras. Typically, each college hosts its own tournament, but this year John Nash, Moraine Valley communications professor and co-coach, and coaches from three other schools created the Region Affiliated Forensics League (RAFL) to make it easier for groups to continue competing during the COVID-19 pandemic. All three events took place through the RAFL.

The Moraine Valley team met virtually every Sunday. Throughout the week, the three Moraine Valley coaches (Nash; Amanda Pettigrew, assistant professor of speech/communications; Krista Appelquist, professor of communications) would work one-on-one with students. On tournament days, team members would come to campus but each compete from a different room. Some students still competed from home, however.

Members of the team include Noor Awaidah, of Oak Lawn; Moises Bello, of Oak Lawn; Nicole Dela Rosa, of Burbank; Trystan Julian, of Chicago Ridge; Andrew Kuntz, of Alsip; Alexis Lyons, of Orland Park; Aidan McGuire, of Mokena; Tyler Orel, of Bridgeview; and Shelby Woody, of Homer Glen.

“The online speech tournament season is not ideal, but I’m thankful the activity can continue. For many students, it is challenging to find reliable internet and professional spaces to perform in. After a brief learning curve, we managed to figure things out,” Nash said. “I am so proud of the hard work our Moraine Valley students have put in this activity.”

The team will continue working throughout the winter break to prepare for the next competition Jan. 8 and 9. All of their spring semester tournaments also will be virtual.