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IMSA's First and Last Annual SYNCHRONOUS Tournament

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General information

This information is from a tournament in a past season!

This is a High School tournament in Illinois.

View manager contact information

We are proud to announce IMSA's first and last annual speech tournament!  IMSA's campus appears to have been carefully designed to be utterly impractical to host a speech tournament, so this pandemic is the only time it will ever make sense for us to host a tournament.

On the other hand, we're pretty good with technology, so we decided to offer a FULLY SYNCHRONOUS speech tournament for all events and competitors.  We're excited to give students the opportunity to perform their pieces live. Students also get the experience of speaking three or four times per event instead of creating a single recording.  We hope that this experience gives every student who competes some valuable extra experience.

The tournament is on Saturday, January 16, 2021.

The cost is $4 per entry, most of which goes toward our tech costs.  Please register one judge per six entries.

An up-to-date list of rules, technical information, and advice can be found on the Google Doc here:


Some frequently asked questions:

Q: Are you sure you can make this work?
A: As sure as we can be of anything these days!  We have experience running online debate tournaments, including large Congress tournaments, throughout the year, and are pretty confident we have the technical ability to make a synchronous speech tournament work.

Q: How is the day going to look?
A: A lot like a regular tournament without the bus ride.  Students and judges will receive their schematics in the morning and report to their virtual rooms at the specified time.  Judges will watch the students live, write comments and rank them, submit their ballot, and wait for their next round.  Finals will be posted electronically, then they will happen, people will watch them, and awards will be given via livestream on YouTube.  This means that both students and judges need to be available throughout the day, though with breaks.

Q: What platform will you be using?
A: Zoom, chosen because of its proven stability and high quality.  SpeechWire will be used for electronic ballots.  Details will follow.

Q: Are double entries allowed?
A: Yes!  No triple entries, the schedule will not allow it.  For students who want to enter in Extemp and Radio, it is possible but they will be very busy in the morning.

Q: What about duets?
A: Our duets have been practicing via Zoom, recording via Zoom, and occasionally competing via Zoom.  While we understand the difficulty that the Internet delay adds to the dynamic of the two characters, we think it's best just to go for it.  Our students will do the best they can and the judges will judge the best they can.  For both fairness and safety, students are not allowed to share the same Zoom call.

Q: What about Impromptu?
A: Students will remain in a general waiting area until requested to enter by the judge.  They will be given the prompts via chat, will prep in front of the judge, then speak.

Q: What about Extemp and Radio?
A: In the spirit of trying to give students as much experience as possible, students will prep for all prelims and finals.  A separate Zoom room will be used for prep and students will be given the IHSA allotted time to prep.  Having not heard otherwise from IHSA, students may use any electronic resources (including the Internet) to prep but may not contact another person.  Radio scripts will be given in editable document format so that students can assemble them on their computers or print them out and assemble them manually, as they prefer.

Q: What about technical problems?
A: We will have to handle them the same way we handle unexpected medical or personal problems at in-person tournaments: with flexibility, compassion, and fairness.  Given the circumstances, it is virtually unavoidable that some students will get a lower score due to a circumstance beyond their control, such as a poor connection.  Despite this, months of debate tournaments and live final rounds have taught us that we can minimize these situations if we are properly prepared.

Q: Many of my students have never competed live over Zoom before!  What should they do to prepare?
A: Given the ubiquity of Zoom (and the fact that you can get 40-minute meetings for free), it should not be hard for students to practice with coaches or other students on the platform to get an idea of what things will be like.  If students have persistent Internet problems, they can look for other solutions: in particular, some schools allow coaches to let students on campus to take advantage of the more stable connection there.

Q: Where do we send money?
A: Send it to:

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Attn: Rick Palmer
1500 Sullivan Rd
Aurora, IL 60506

Q: I have a question that's not on here.
A: Please e-mail us!  We're happy to answer questions, and you certainly may have thought of something we've forgotten.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Peter Dong and Leah Kind
Speech and debate coaches
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy


Manager contact information

Peter Dong
Email address: pdong@imsa.edu
Phone number: 630-770-5786

Mailing address

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
1500 Sullivan Rd
Aurora, IL 60506

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