Doing research, keeping time and practicing are some of the ways that the McDowell Speech and Debate Team is preparing for their competition season. Senior and president of the club, Judah Jones said being involved in the club leads to opportunities to travel, meet new people and gain new skills.  

“There's so many skills, but, you know, public speaking is a big one. Obviously, just learning to not be afraid and just really enjoy the conversation you can have with people, with professionals, with adults, and also the research skills are huge,” Jones said.

Sophomore Talia Hillen said competing has helped her become more courageous.  

“It helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, as weird as that sounds. Now I do public speaking for fun, but it definitely helps put skills into real life. Based off of what you learned in a club,” Hillen said.

For over 20 years, William Caugherty has coached the team. Caugherty has led the team to multiple victories throughout the years.   

“We had quite a bit of success last year, including a number of kids who are returning from being a state finalist and even a state champion, . . .we have a lot of experience, you know, and a lot of hope and a lot of things to look forward to . . .but at the same time, it's not even about those competitions. It's about what these kids are learning and sort of, ultimately, how they're preparing for college and preparing for life,” Caugherty said.