Orange Coast College's Speech, Debate and Reader's Theatre team made history on Saturday, April 15 with its third straight national championship win at the Phi Rho Pi tournament in Washington, D.C.
One of the nation's oldest forensic organizations, Phi Rho Pi brings together two-year colleges from all over the United States to compete in 14 events, including three forms of debate, limited preparation events, oratory, and performance events like Interpreter's Theater.
"It is historic — this is the first time in OCC's history that we have won the national tournament three years in a row. This three-peat has only been accomplished by one other school in the 57-plus years of recorded national championships," said Director of Forensics and Communications Studies instructor Courtney Anderson. "It is a huge achievement that took an incredible amount of work. I could not be more proud."
OCC's speech program also is celebrating a second historic moment: the College now has the record for the highest number of national wins at Phi Rho Pi, with 11 in total.
Additionally, all of OCC's 14 student competitors broke at least one event to an out round. "This is incredible considering the high level of competition," said Communications Studies instructor and coach Das Nugent.
Each one of the breakout performances contributed to OCC accruing a total of 302.5 points. Taking second place with 186 points was Mt San Antonio College; in third was Moorpark College with 178.5; in fourth was Southeastern Illinois College with 165; and in fifth was El Camino College with 135 points.
According to communications instructor and coach Raffaela Baker, the victory was hard won. "This team stepped up to the challenge," she said. "They wanted to keep the forward momentum that the team started two years ago."
Anderson — who will step down as Director of Forensics after this school year — noted that this year's win is especially meaningful as many of the coaches were themselves OCC students who participated in speech and debate during their time at the College.
"It was also especially rewarding to win this last tournament with so many coaches who were themselves former OCC speech students. Their brilliance and dedication made my last tournament one for the record books," Anderson said. "I will never be able express my tremendous gratitude. I am honored to have led this team and I will never forget this amazing experience."