Kienzle attends National Speech and Debate Tournament

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to attend the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Dallas, Texas.

Clarice Andrus  (L) and Sabrina Kienzle (R) pose at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Dallas, Texas.
Clarice Andrus (L) and Sabrina Kienzle (R) pose at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Dallas, Texas.


This summer I had the amazing opportunity to attend the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Dallas, Texas. It all started back at the State Qualifying Tournament in April. I entered the tournament with my state-winning speech “Forensic’s Nightmare” by Deborah Karczewski. I was very surprised when I made it into the top 12 and even more surprised when I broke top 6.

Performing for so many people in such a small space was nerve wracking. I was pacing for a good 10 minutes before the final round started. But as soon as I started my speech, I was calm. I had done it so many times before. I got into character and before I knew it, everyone was applauding. I sat back down in my chair and had fun watching the other competitors. When awards started, I was shaking. Then, they called the six finalists up to announce the final round scores. sixth. fifth. fourth. third.

I finally heard my name called at second place. It was such an amazing feeling. I had beat one of my close friends by one place and also lost to another friend by one place. It wasn’t over yet though. They would have to take all of our preliminary scores as well as our semi-final and final scores and tally them together. The top two with the lowest scores would qualify and move on to the national tournament.

After waiting another 30 minutes, they called the Humorous Interpretation qualifiers. My name was not called. Instead, it was my two friends. I was so proud of them and later found out that I was the first alternate for Humorous Interpretation.

I had also applied to be on the World School’s Debate Team representing North Dakota at the National Tournament. 30 students had applied, but only 10 were chosen. After waiting for what felt like hours, I finally heard my name called. I had made it into the National Tournament.

The next two months were filled with researching and learning how to properly use World School’s Debate form. When the day finally came to drive up to Fargo to hop on the bus to Dallas, I was the most excited I had ever been in my life. Once we arrived in Dallas we went straight to the Sheraton where the tournament was being held. This building was 40 stories high. That Saturday night was the last free night I was going to have to the next week.

On Sunday our debate team met and researched more on our topics. We also practiced debating one another with our topics. Then suddenly it was Monday morning and we were on the DART to another hotel where the World School’s Debate tournament was held. This needed to be in another building because there were so many teams that qualified. Each team was guaranteed at least three prepared rounds and four impromptu rounds where we only had an hour to prepare our speeches. Right off the bat my team won our first impromptu round. We ended up losing our first prepared round. But we kept our heads up and won three more impromptu rounds and lost two prepared rounds. We ended up not winning enough rounds to move on together as a team.

I ended up entering in a consolation round of storytelling. This was a single elimination round where if you did not receive a thumbs up in your round you do not move on. I made it to second round before getting a thumbs down. The piece I had performed for storytelling was the Grimm brothers’ Little Red Cap. I chose it because it was a very fun traditional piece and I had not seen it performed before. I was a little bummed that I had not made it farther, but I am hoping to return next year.

Going in to watch finals was so amazing. There were thousands of students packed into a large room all intent on watching individuals perform their pieces. The level of talent the finalists had was outrageous and I realized that I have to work so much harder to even be half as amazing as they are.

On our North Dakota team, we ended up having a student break finals in supplementals. He was only a freshman and everyone on our team was so happy and excited for him to have come so far. Even though he took second place, he still has three more years to take first. The National Speech and Debate Tournament was such an amazing experience that I am going to work as hard as I can to be able to attend next year and hopefully compete in Humorous Interpretation. I would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who helped me to get to Dallas. I am so grateful of the support from my family, friends, and community. I would also like to give a big thanks to my speech coach, Clarice Andrus, for coaching me to even have the opportunity to get there.

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