"The Activity that Transformed my Life"

By Olyvia Chinchilla

Published by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

January 2, 2015

"During the fall of eighth grade, I was preparing for my first formal speech—presenting my winning science essay. When I mentioned the event to my great aunt, informing her that I would like to become a good public speaker, she replied that she was certain I could succeed. The same year, a friend encouraged my older sister and me to start competitive speech and debate. At first I was reluctant to participate, because I was less talkative than my sister. Finally I acquiesced, mainly because I remembered the words I had confided to my aunt. Looking back, five years later, I see the benefits of speech and debate: I have not only become an efficient public speaker—having spoken at my local Veterans Day Service and other public venues—but I have also developed critical life skills.

My first..."
read more on page 86 of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine here


Olyvia Chinchilla is the former President and Acting Director of Speech and Debate USA. She is currently a freshman at Northwestern University (in Evanston, IL), planning to major in Economics and minor in Mathematics. She participated for five years in speech and debate, qualifying to NCFCA Regionals and winning numerous awards in Apologetics, Extemporaneous, Impromptu, Informative, Illustrated Oratory, and Persuasive. Olyvia currently serves as a Board Member and Webmaster of Speech and Debate USA. More information about Speech and Debate USA can be found online at www.speechanddebateusa.com  

"The Club of Strategy"

By Olyvia Chinchilla

Published by Texas Home School Coalition

July 8, 2014

During my Calculus II course at a local four year college this spring, I marveled at my professor during his lectures. He gracefully explained problems, showed his students the proper “short” methods, and always left me in awe at his depth of mathematical knowledge. It was not until a couple weeks into the ten week course, that he revealed his secret: “This course is a course in strategy,” he proclaimed. Strategy. How often we forget that simple word! Whether it is math problems, homework, chores, sports, or activities, we often forget that there are less complex and more efficient means of achieving things.

After three years of participating in competitive speech and debate, I realized something: speech and debate was another area where strategy could be applied. Due to a shortage of clubs in various areas or difficulties travelling to available clubs, many families were kept from participating in the activity. To solve that problem, I founded Speech and Debate USA, a national student-led speech and debate club that meets online.

My older sister and I had actually identified the problem early on—during our first year of competition. At the time, my younger siblings were too little to tag along to club, which ran during dinner time and ended late. Also, my dad often had difficulty coming home in time to watch my siblings, before we left on the 45 minute to an hour drive to club. This predicament was not something we alone experienced. Countless families felt the same frustration. Many, like ours, bore the difficulty to give their children practice in the life-changing activity; others, couldn’t justify the short-term difficulty for the long-term goal and left. Worse of all, others didn’t have a club remotely near their house and were either forced to compete at tournaments without a club or to not participate in speech and debate at all.

The solution to the problem did not occur to me until my junior year and fourth year of competing in speech and debate. After taking a couple online classes, I asked myself, “Why could the same principle of long-distance communication not be applied to speech and debate tournament preparation?” Using my knowledge of speech and debate, and my new-found knowledge of internet communication, I founded Speech and Debate USA, which meets online. At first the club was a Regional one, but over the past year it was expanded nationwide, with chapters in each NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association) Region. Students throughout the U.S. now have the same club availability—and the wonderful opportunity to prepare and network with others nationwide. Our pool of coaches also spans the globe, wherever accomplished and respected alumni have headed after their years in speech and debate. When tournament time comes, students in Speech and Debate USA can look forward to meeting their club mates from their Regional chapter.

I felt very blessed to meet three of our coaches, whom I had not previously met, at the 2014 NCFCA National Championship. Oddly enough, however, it did not feel like I was meeting them for the first time. Why? We had worked closely together for the last nine months! The online video, audio, and chat utilized in our weekly meetings (through our secure operating platform) worked just as if we had been together in person. Speech and Debate USA students receive instruction, share evidence, practice speeches, and get to know other students—all from the convenience of home!

Whether it is eliminating the long drive to club each week; opening up the door of competition to formerly geographically isolated families; connecting students with others around the nation; allowing alumni the chance to coach from afar; or fostering a speech and debate club community, Speech and Debate USA utilizes technology in amazing ways. Strategy doesn’t apply only to Calculus—it works flawlessly in Speech and Debate USA.


Olyvia Chinchilla is a co-founder of Speech and Debate USA, having served as its President & Acting Director for the past two seasons. She has graduated from high school and plans to study Economics at Northwestern University, in Chicago, this fall. This past school year, she completed her fifth and final year of speech and debate in NCFCA, the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association. She has qualified to NCFCA Regionals and won numerous awards in Apologetics, Extemporaneous, Illustrated Oratory, Impromptu, Informative, and Persuasive. She also competed at the national level in Persuasive in 2012. In 2013, Olyvia and her partner were octafinalists in Team Policy debate at the NCFCA Region VI Regional Invitational, and Olyvia won third place Team Policy Speaker. Olyvia and her partner were again Team Policy octafinalists at the 2014 Region VI Regional Invitational and missed qualifying to Nationals by two slots. Olyvia Competed at the 2014 National Championship in Informative speaking. More information about Speech and Debate USA can be found online: http://www.speechanddebateusa.com/


"What if your speech and debate club traveled to you?"

By Olyvia Chinchilla

Published by Ethos Publications

October 28, 2013

"Currently in my senior year of high school, I wanted to experience something new and challenging before I graduated. To supplement my Honors Government and Politics course, I applied for an internship position in my congressman’s district office. The person who interviewed me—the man who would become my immediate boss if I was accepted—seemed skeptical..."read more here


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