Talking Saints Score Big and Make the Most of Virtual Tournaments

Friday, November 20, 2020

HELENA – The Carroll College Talking Saints won 26 awards and finished second in sweepstakes at the Linfield College Tournament, November 20-22, held virtually in McMinnville, Oregon. Fifteen of the 16 team members won awards at the first of two regional championship tournaments.

The team was led by first-year student Josie Howlett of Bigfork, Montana, who won both novice extemporaneous speaking and junior British Parliamentary debate, with her partner, Elaina “Elly” Goulet of East Wenatchee, Washington. Howlett also placed third in impromptu speaking.

The team advanced nine team members to the finals of extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, including sophomore Vinny Gallardo of Butte who won junior impromptu and senior Teigen Tremper of Whitefish who was third in open impromptu. Gallardo and partner sophomore Roisin O’Neill of Lake Oswego, Oregon, placed third in open debate. O’Neill was a finalist in extemp.

Carroll dominated BP debate, taking the top three places in Open Debate, while placing first and third in Junior Debate, while winning 10 speaker awards. Ally Haegele of Helena was top speaker in junior debate, and placed third in debate with her partner Matt Glimm of Kalispell.

Senior Josh Mansfield from Pocatello, Idaho, and Hellie Badaruddin, a sophomore from Missoula, won open debate, and also tied for top speaker in the tournament.

Also winning debate awards were first-years Sarah Osmon of Terrebonne, Oregon, Finlay Bates of Forest Grove, Oregon, and Elissa Mazkour of Beirut, Lebanon. Senior David Lange of Ferndale, Washington, and junior Eleanor Ferrone of Hastings, Nebraska, finished second in open debate and both won speaker awards.

“The success was more than we dreamed possible,” said coach Brent Northup. “We’ve scaled back the program during this COVID year to avoid increasing stress, and to allow students to focus more completely on academics, which are more challenging in hybrid/online formats. Part of our team studied for finals which begins in six days, and skipped the tournament, and the ones that competed entered only half as many events as normal. In hockey terms, I felt like we scored a lot of short-handed goals. Very proud of them all.”

In virtual tournaments, the team spreads out over Carroll’s campus. In speech events, each student took a laptop to their own classroom, where they competed alone, virtually. A few students competed in dorm rooms, when the space was suitable – beds made, closets closed.

Howlett and Goulet won debate from their dorm rooms.

“So, although Elly and I could have debated in the same room, I decided to set up on my desk in my dorm room in Guad and Elly sat at her desk in her room,” said Howlett. “We communicated through Snapchat and I gave all my speeches with bright red Beats headphones that probably gave me some much-needed swagger.”

“I have a lamp lit up in front me with the main lights off in our room,” said Elly (Goulet). “Plus being in our rooms means it’s easier to relax before rounds.”

First-year Melissa Jagelski of Ontario, Oregon, and her partner Elissa Mazkour of Beirut, Lebanon, discovered that they could turn a classroom into a living room.

“I have to say, the nice thing about competing online is that Melissa and I get to laugh and make hot chocolate,” said Mazkour. “However, we still want to experience debating in person, because trust me, having to bring four tables together and connecting wires to charge our laptops was not ideal.”

Spread out over campus, the Talking Saints hardly saw each other all weekend. Coach Northup was in his St. Charles office, helping run the event, so he never saw them, either.

“I miss getting to come together as a team to celebrate each other and high fives,” said Haegele. “But competing virtually has meant we get to virtually travel to tournaments we couldn't otherwise, so there are some trade-offs. We've made the best of it!”