The Krider Invitational Tournament, hosted by Henry County in Paris, Tenn., saw Paducah Tilghman place several team members in the top 10 in the first in-person competition since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. In this tournament, the PTHS Speech Team went up against competitors from 17 different schools. The team was led by sophomore Fiona Caywood and her first-place finish in poetry. Along with Caywood’s first-place finish in poetry, the team had several other outstanding finishes, with freshman Maggie Rowton placing second in Prose, junior Aneeza Ali placing third in Dramatic Interpretation, sophomore Zane Warren placing fifth in Dramatic Interpretation, freshman CoryOn Brooks placing sixth in Poetry and ninth in Storytelling, sophomore Ellie Brown placing eighth in Prose, and senior Paige Lauren Kight placing tenth in Storytelling.
With this being the first in-person meet since the Coronavirus Pandemic, nerves were running high. Junior Aneeza Ali said, “It was definitely more nerve racking. After a year of Covid during virtual meets we were only required to submit a video, not having to face any judges. In person we have to physically stand in front of the judge and give the speech which is a tough task in itself.”
Sophomore Fiona Caywood said, “I can’t remember a meet where I wasn’t literally trembling in the moments leading to my performance. The pressure is on for everything to be perfect.”
While the nerves were running high, the team was able to remain calm and deliver big results. And for Ali, being back in person and able to bond with her teammates and watch others perform made all the nerves worth the while. “I truly missed the speech environment of the meets,” she said, “The in person meets provides you an opportunity to meet with other ‘speechies’ and have conversations amongst other teams as well as your own. You are also able to watch other peoples piece and learn from their experience and acting.”
While Kentucky continues to not allow in-person meets, both girls are looking forward to the rest of this season. Caywood is looking forward to face to face meets. “I am really excited to hopefully have more in person meets this season but unfortunately Kentucky is not allowing any in person meets,” said Caywood. “We do have a couple on the schedule out of state that will be in person, as far as we know. While in-person meets are undoubtedly more stressful, they are way more fun than filming yourself in your bedroom,” she said.
Ali is looking forward to bonding with the team and seeing her placing go up. “I am definitely looking forward to my placing this season. Last year it was a struggle to place during virtual competitions because a requirement in the category I am competing in requires a lot of emotion,” saidd Ali. “It is definitely easier to express emotion in person as it is like having a conversation with another. I would love to see how my scores come out this year and the team bonding I’m able to do with my teammates in our future in person competitions,” she said.
This meet is just the first of many on the schedule for the Paducah Tilghman Speech Team. As the season continues and they continue to improve and gain more experience, they will learn to convey their emotions and feeling to these live judges. This ability makes a world of difference, and as they improve, their scores will continue to rise. More success is on the horizon for this young team.