Its debatable…Speak Up!

November 13, 2007

Rookie Tournaments for Recruitment

As we wind down our first semester of competition (one more tournament), we are also getting ready for our big Rookie Tournament on campus.  CSU Chico has had a large rookie tournament that invites all of the public speaking classes and argumentation and debate classes to compete in a tournament towards the end of the semester.  This has been THE major recruiting device for the team, especially on the debate side of things.  If you are not already holding a Rookie Tournament on your campus, and you’re looking for a way to increase numbers and understanding of what it is you do every weekend, I strongly encourage you to try it.  I have been at a number of different universities over the past decade, and each had their own special take on the Rookie.  I thought I might share some of those options, with some costs and benefits of each.  If you have specific questions on running a Rookie Tournament, please feel free to contact me or to put your questions in the Comments area as I’m sure there are a number of people who run these types of tournaments, and each might have a slightly different take.  For those of you who do run Rookie Tournaments, please feel free to add your 2 cents in the comments!  The more information, the merrier the Rookie Tournament!

CHICO MODEL:  CSU Chico, Kathy Waste and others who were in the department spent a considerable amount of time formulating the best possible strategy for hosting a rookie tournament.  The original goals were to (1) help out department FTE, (2) recruit new team members by sparking an interest in them through competition, and (3) giving the campus a small taste of what we do on almost a weekly basis.  It has grown now to support over 200 students each semester on the speech side and debate that usually has 25-30 participants.  Much of the team growth each year comes from this activity and it provides students with a great way to showcase what they have done in their classes all semester.  The tournament at Chico runs two debate rounds on Friday afternoon, and then two more and Semis and Finals on Saturday.  It also runs an IE tournament on Saturday with two prelims in Informative, Persuasive and Impromptu speaking and a Semis and Finals on Saturday. In the past we have recycled plaques to use for awards and provided certificates.

LONG BEACH/CSUN/CSUF/DVC/SFCC MODEL:  While at Fullerton, I participated in a joint effort with Long Beach and Northridge to provide one tournament for all of our classes each semester.  Modeling this, I believe that Becky Opsata at DVC and Kristina Whalen at SFCC is now doing a similar event each semester.  This is a great way to get those who “are sort of interested but not sure” about joining the team out to a tournament without a huge cost or time commitment.  The students get to “travel” without an overnight stay and they get a chance to meet students from other schools, both as competitors and judges and see that this is something that people are excited about.

PEPPERDINE MODEL:  At Pepperdine, we simplified the event to only include speech and it was run one evening using an elimination model of competition.  We had one round that everyone competed in, a second round that the top half went on to compete in, than a final round from the top competitors through the two rounds.  This was a small event – usually 70 or so people, so it was easier to find the final round doing it this way.  We did Informative, Persuasive and Impromptu following the Chico model.  It was a pretty simple event and we gave leftover t-shirts and sweatshirts from our tournaments as awards. 

There are tons of other models out there, I’m sure.  Chico actually had a student write their thesis on the Rookie Tournament and she put together a wonderful handbook to help the Director out with running the tournament.  I would love to provide that to any of those who would be interested in getting a Rookie Tournament started at their campus.

 Go rookies!  Their enthusiasm and joy at winning awards is truly inspiring.  It always reminds me of why I wanted to go into coaching in the first place!


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