Members of the speech team said when they practice, they don’t build muscles or necessarily do team building exercises.
They practice communicating like adults - in high school.
Take Abbie Takes. She’s 17-years-old and a junior at Marion High School. The experience of speaking in front of crowds and formulating arguments with little to no preparation helped her greatly when a job interviewer asked her, "When have you acted on your own, apart from a group?"
Takes came up with an answer immediately. She was working on this group project and no one was doing anything, so she had to take charge and direct to get things done.
But it was a lie.
Takes said she couldn’t remember a time where she acted independently during the interview, but in her defense, she said she probably has.
And she got the job, because she has this ability to think on her feat, courtesy of her experience at speech team.
Mackenzie Wernet is the new coach of the team. The team has had five coaches in the last four years but Wernet said their team has done very well despite the leadership changing so frequently. The team of around 40 students recently wrapped up their season and made it to the state tournament.
She said the skills these high school students learn are immensely valuable to adult life and having a professional career.
She teaches speech at the college level and she said she can immediately identify the college students that did speech team during high school.
"The freshman in my speech team are more prepared for college than the seniors in my oral communications speech classes," she said.
But for many of the students, there’s a vast difference between the skills they’ve learned since they took speech class and their lives before learning what are essentially advanced social skills.
"I barely talked," said Courtney "Bobo" Bohland, the 16-year-old sophomore. "No one in the band would talk to me. They thought I was mute and so they didn’t want to hurt my feelings."
No, Bohland is obviously not mute, nor did she miraculously recover from muteness to speak in speech team.
She simply joined speech team and, after a while, socialization and her fears of other people just went away. When she started socializing, she said her peers couldn’t recognize where her voice came from.
"It just kind of seems silly to me now that I was so afraid of people," she said. "It was almost painful how much I cared about what other people thought."
And that goes beyond showing others her personality to the point where she has no problem defending herself from verbal assaults from bullies. Or fighting back.
Corey "Gnomes" Skole, a 17-year-old senior on the team, has a term for the defensive behavior of high school kids armed with adult communications skills.