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2022 NSDA Humor Semifinalist Carly Benn-Thornton On Her Humor Journey and Girls in Speech Leadership

One Clap Speech and Debate is back featuring the tremendously talented Riverton High School alum, Carly Benn-Thornton! Carly talked about her 2022 NSDA Humor Semifinalist run, her Humor and interpretative journey in Speech and Debate, and the importance of encouraging and placing girls in Speech and Debate Leadership roles.


Before we get to the interview, I want to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Lucia Small who passed away last week. Lucia Small was the director of “Girl Talk” - an amazing film that chronicles a group of girl debaters - and she graciously spoke with me on One Clap this summer after the release of her film. If you get a chance, you should read the tribute to Lucia written by Peter Keough at the Arts Remembrance:

Lucia’s voice and art was unique and bold, and she was a beautiful human being. She was so very kind to me and everyone she connected with. She will be greatly missed.


Transcript of Interview with Carly Benn-Thornton

(there are some errors in the auto-transcript, & I will continue to edit as I have time):

Lyle: Hi, Carly. how's it going? Welcome to the one clap speech and debate podcast live and in person mm-hmm .

Carly: Well, thank you. Thank you.

Lyle: It's neat to have you sitting across from me for recording. Thanks for coming to Thermopolis I've got a bunch of stuff I want to talk to you today. Mm-hmm about really excited to congratulate you 11th place at nationals and humor is super amazing. Um, something we'll talk about. Congratulations. Thank you. I'll tell you many times, congratulations, but really amazing accomplishment. But, uh, let's start with something kind of more simple and generalized. So on a scale of one to 10, how nerdy would you say that you are Carly?

Carly: Okay. Well, first I have a question for you. What is your definition of nerdy?

Lyle: Well, part of it, what I think is happening here is we're creating a definition of nerdy because we're, it is true that like, Some people think that that refers to nerd culture and interests mm-hmm and some people think that it refers to, the level of passion that you put into something like say policy debate or pulling evidence, or that's true. Or, and I know you're kind of a. I interp fanatic mm-hmm um, so I mean, you could consider that nerdy or maybe that's just professional.

Carly: I don't know. Yeah. because, I mean, not to point any fingers, but I do associate like debaters with nerdiness yeah.

Lyle: They tend to admit that too.

Carly: I mean, I am just as much as a nerd as they are, because I mean, not so much. Because when I think nerd, I immediately, uh, associate like franchises with like Marvel or like, um, books or something like that. But for me, it's about art and theater. I love going to art museums and just looking at everything and just studying, like, I have so many books on. Different forms of art and it's so interesting. It makes me cry also theater, just, I, I love reading play scripts and just, looking at different characters and analyzing films and stuff. That's very interesting to me. So I'd probably on that scale. I'd probably give it like a nine.

Lyle: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and again, like there's nothing negative about being passionate about something. So exactly. I don't know. I think we just, we just embrace if that means nerd to other people, then whatever . Yeah. All right. Cool. Are you, are you into any like nerd culture things you think, oh gosh, you like stranger things.

Carly: Oh, I love stranger things.

Lyle: What'd you think of the new season?

Carly: I honestly, it was really good. It was, it was, the acting was phenomenal. I don't know how they got such young actors that were. So good. Like I don't, none of them fell short. Yeah. And usually you find that in films it's like, there was either like one or two actors that aren't as good as the rest. All of them were phenomenal.

Yeah. They're all just getting better. Mm, exactly. Well, and the writing is really good in that show. I love how they there's always like this. They go disparate groups and then they always end up back together. Mm-hmm and it feels like at some point that's gonna get old or something, but this last season was, they did a really great job. I was on the edge of my seat, like screaming. So scared. yeah,

Lyle: It was, it was definitely scary. I agree. Uh, well, cool. So, so you like some of that kind of stuff? Yeah. That's so I know a little bit about this and we'll talk about the legacy of speech and debate that you're a part of mm-hmm , but how did you get involved in speech and debate Carly?

Carly: Well, okay. So my mom tells me that when, because my older sister, she started doing, um, speech and debate, I think her freshman year. And that's when my mom became the coach was when my sister joined speech and debate and. She told me that ever since I was like three or four, I was watching, kids do speech and debate like in high chairs is what she says.

But I don't really remember that. ,the first memories I have are when I was like seven and eight and watching some of the debaters from the Riverton team. And then, exploring more inter events later on like distinct memory is watching Heather McLaughlin and Nick Fenton. And like cat Tyler and my brother, Joe, those were just distinct in my mind, just watching them and, um, being in elementary and middle school and traveling on the bus with them. I guess that was kind of my origin story was just going at a young age to all of the events and helping, I would do their hair sometimes.

And that was, that was good. Watch their events. Of course, an early hairdresser for the speech debate. Exactly. Nice. Yeah. No, my mom said if I'm able to do French braids, then I'm able to go on the speech and debate, tournaments. .

Lyle: What is it like to be sort of a member of a speech and debate legacy? I mean, you come from a team, that's had a lot of really impressive success as a team and some really amazing performers coming outta Riverton. Yeah. And then you come from a family that has produced several really impressive performers and debaters and just different kinds of competitors. So, I mean, is that, did that feel like a lot of pressure? Was it, was it okay? I mean, I, I know your mom. She's great. Yeah. Obviously, but I mean, has, has that been kind of tricky?

Carly: Yeah. From the beginning. It was so intimidating. I mean, just watching cuz I was like kind of in the shadow of my, my siblings, watching their performances and musicals and watching them in speech and debate, just being in awe of like how much capacity they have and then understanding that I am a part of that, that group.

And going into the Riverton, like talking about Nick and Heather and cat watching them too, I was like in awe, always laughing and always crying with their performances. Watching them, first feeling was intimidation. And understanding that I would have to fulfill those expectations when I'm older going into my freshman year, understanding that like, I, I put myself at a way too high of a standard. That was one of my first mistakes. And, but it, it is really encouraging honestly, to come from that talent and to watch that and just be inspired by them was, such a motivator for me as well.

Lyle: Well, I think there's something too seen that level of success knowing it's attainable. Mm-hmm and you've definitely accomplished a lot in your time and speech and debate. So I think that that might give you confidence, but yeah, I do worry about folks that like set really high expectations for themselves.

And I remember even from the time that you've just entered into the community, that you were very serious mm-hmm about your craft. Yeah. You seem much more relaxed mm-hmm in the last two years. like, I think it's, I think that you've definitely learned a lot and maybe put a little less pressure on yourself.

Carly: I hope so. I hope you put lot pressure on yourself because I felt like you, you did seem very. Serious. And you've always had a lot of success. You've always been really successful, yeah, I remember like my, my, um, friends, Shannon and Kaya, like we entered our first meet and we were like, we're gonna have our heads held high and we're gonna have our shoulders back.

And we're gonna show these people that we are so serious about this event. and like, we were. So I don't, it was it was funny. It's funny to look back on that now, so I could definitely see where you're coming from. I,

Lyle: I hope that you've had a good time in your time in speech and debate. But for sure, I know that You've definitely taken it seriously and done your best with your events and done some really impressive stuff. Mm-hmm so what thank you. What have you done over the years? Like what events? I know you've done quite a few.

Carly: Yeah. yeah, so I, I started small my freshman year, with just humor and then I adopted my doo partner, Isaac. And then, that became my passion. My, my freshman and sophomore year was duo. And so I. Humor and duo and pO my freshman year. And then I expanded to poetry my sophomore year. And then after that, I just started doing, almost all inter prevents humor, duo drama, poetry. I've always wanted to dabble in platform, but I guess I'd never had the time when I was so focused on like all of my interim events, but yeah, well, yeah, you definitely have done a lot of inter events. pretty much everything mm-hmm right.

Lyle: I was just thinking about how the fact that you were freshman, we were doing in-person tournaments, right? Mm-hmm and then your sophomore and your junior year were both basically online years. Mm-hmm well, at least from state on, in the second year. So. I mean, what did it mean to you this last year to be able to compete in person, to be able to, to attend nationals in person, to be able to do state in person, all of those things?

Carly: It, oh my gosh. It was, it was so good. Just, I remember feeling so whole after going to my first in person tournament after so many years of being online. And just like seeing everyone's faces and seeing actual reaction rather than crickets in a humor round was so encouraging. And, and it fulfilled me really.

It did. And it, it just, it helped me, honestly, in those years of online, I was, I found myself losing a lot of motivation to do anything because I, I didn't have that fulfilling. Connection with an audience that I had in person. And so once I finally got that back, it was one of my main motivators too.

Lyle: Yeah. I, I think we'll talk, we're gonna talk about humor here pretty soon, but I think especially humor is a difficult event to do in isolation mm-hmm or even. On a screen where you're watching reactions on a screen, just a very different kind of situation. Cuz the reactions that you feed off of are part of what make it so much fun part.

It probably would give you energy and performance. Yeah. So yeah, that's, I'm really glad that you had the opportunity to travel to nationals and that you got to compete last year in person. So., I wanna talk about humor and kind of your experience with it. Like mm-hmm and, but also just kind of in general, what about laughter and humor? How does it play into your life? How is it a part of your life?

Carly: Well, I've always found that laughter is like the biggest connection that you can have to somebody. And especially in pieces, I feel like it's very important that you have to laugh with someone before you cry with somebody. And that's, it's so strong when, when that happens and. I've I've just found that it's such a connecting thing. When, when you have laughter and you're able to share something that, that is so beautiful with, with other people and have the exact same emotion and just like, it makes people happy, honestly. And. It's one of the most fulfilling things for me is when I'm able to make people laugh and just bring joy to their faces. Like, that's it. It's, it's so amazing.

Lyle: is that one of the main reasons why you do like competing in humor? Or are there some other things you really love about competing in humor too, or, yeah.

Carly: Uh, no, I, I love the laughter. I love reaction. And just looking at my audience members and like making eye contact and making connection with them and, and seeing their, their facial expressions. I mean, obviously there's a lot of other things I love about humor, just that the people in it are so fun and so welcoming as well.

Lyle: I think it's a place where people that have a lot of. Versatility and flexibility, and can do a lot of different things in acting where they can really show off mm-hmm because there's almost, I mean, there's boundaries, there's boundaries in all of our events, but seems like there's less boundaries and humor than there are. And say drama, maybe not POI POI is pretty boundaryless at this moment, but like, I, you know, I think it's cool that you can really stretch yourself.

Carly: Yeah. And you find the people that do humor. How much they, they stretch themselves and how flexible they are that kind of translates to their person and how like willing there to talk to you and be so energetic with you. Like, I, I found that a lot and it's so fun.

Lyle: it seems like it would be a fun community of people to just hang out with too. Mm-hmm so all that being said, there are some challenges to humor mm-hmm and. What have you found is what makes a humor piece really effective or really compelling or really competitive?

Carly: I feel like there's two things. So one is landing your lines because comedic timing falls into humor so much, and it's so important to your piece. Because, well, I wanna give an example. like in space, girl, let me think of lines. Okay. So like introducing my characters, there was Charlotte and there was arugula and then Charlotte says, Um, hi, my name is Charlotte.

My sister's name is Emily. My dad is really into the Bronte and then arugula has a line, but I'm gonna say it without landing the lines and bleeding into the characters and you'll see like the difference. So, hi, my name is Charlotte. My sister's name is Emily. My dad is really into the Bronte. Hi, I'm arugula.

My dad is really into salad. So you just moved here, huh? Yeah, from, um, Pittsburgh. And then landing those lines. Ha. My name is Charlotte. My dad is really into the Bronte. Hi, I'm arugula. My dad is really into salad. Uh, So you, you just moved here, huh? Yeah. , it's just like that comedic timing. Like it's different and it, and you can see like the effect of it play into like your the reaction of the audience as well.

And, another thing is the theme, because a lot of people, going into humor, their immediate, conceptualization of humor is just to like, be funny and like stand up humor,

right? Like stand I, I could be a standup comedian kind of that. Yeah. Disconnected almost like mm-hmm jokes or something.

It's just like, yeah. My, my goal is to make people laugh and to be funny, but really. Humor connects to all of the other events and the fact that you are sharing a message and there is a very concrete theme and, um, thesis that you were trying to convey.

And so when you have that, it is so important, like, especially in my out rounds of nationals, all of the introductions I saw had very serious tonalities underneath their humorous facade. And that that's so cool to see honestly, and it's more powerful when, when you have something that people are able to laugh at, but at the same time they're able to connect with, so that's something that's very important to humor as well.

Lyle: Absolutely. And I think you're right that sometimes folks don't, they don't think that that's what humor is that , they think.

Being funny just means getting something funny and being funny, and sure. But if you wanna take a piece to the next level, I think you're right. I think it's gotta have a heart mm-hmm it's gotta have a message. It's gotta have something that's human, like a human connection, something that's real that connects to how people understand the world. Definitely. So, yeah, I think that's huge. And I think that not everyone knows that too. Mm-hmm I think that that's, that's a really good thing to communicate to people. I think we should talk about nationals next, probably. Okay. So being in person, being a semi-finalist in your main event in humor, the event that you really love too, taking 11th place at nationals, getting to go on the stage and being awarded that 11th place trophy, right? Like you had a trophy, uh, what was all that like?

Carly: Honestly, there were so many emotions that fell into that. because I, I was really scared. I mean, going even just like breaking to Octa finals, like I've broken to Octa finals, my past three years into duo. And I know how hard that cut is from like how mu many people was like 270 entries cut to 60.

Like that's so scary to think about and so. I, I was just enjoying the moment and hoping that I could go on, but if I couldn't, then it was all right. But when I did, it was shocking for some reason. and then, so I got to Okta finals and then I was like, okay, this is like, this is how I end the season. This is gonna be perfect.

Like this was my goal. For when I came here and then I got into quarters and I was like, oh gosh, I've, I've never been to quarters. um, and then I was like, okay, like quarters is really good. Um, like, I think like one person from Riverton has gone to quarters in their, I E. And then I was like, okay, that's perfect.

Like leaving a legacy here. and I got to semis and I was like, oh my gosh, this is crazy. And, and then I, I looked at the, the people I was competing with and you see big names across the circuit, like in, in the big cities of like California and New York and Texas, and like apple valley as a big one. And those names are so big and they all know each other too.

and then just like coming from a small town in Wyoming, like. That's really scary. And, just like looking at them and seeing how much experience they had and how they're able to, have that experience of just having like 10 coaches and like specific classes for speech or debate just like seeing that is scary in itself, but, talking to my mom, she was in my semifinal round and it was really nice because she could see that I was like tapping my legs and breathing heavily and like looking around really anxious.

And she said, well, Carly, this is, this is any other, tournament you've been to. This is any other. Round that you've been in, just treat it like a semifinal round. It it's fine. like any semifinal round from Wyoming. This is, this is good. This is what you're used to. And I took that and I was able to perform with my heart and then just like, see the reaction.

And it's. It's surreal to see people outside of my round, waiting in line to come into the room. And they filled all of the seats and there was still people outside of the room waiting to be in there. and that, that was surreal. I was like, oh my gosh, people want to see this. This is a big deal to other people.

And that was inspiring. Honestly, I, I get energy from the, reactions that I, I get from the, the people, even if it is just like facial expression or people listening intently, that's, that's inspiring. That motivates me. And so that was cool to see I think they only allowed 40 people in that room and just to have like that much laughter and that many people listening it. It was surreal. It was so cool.

Lyle: yeah. It's amazing. And you were pretty close to getting on the stage before you would've been competing in front of many, many, many people. , like just watching that makes me nervous.

Carly: I know. That's that's what I was thinking too.

Lyle: can't imagine what it's like to be up there. Yeah. , that's incredible. Uh, well you talked about kind of like leaving a legacy. Do you feel like you've kind of left something special behind?

Carly: I hope so. Like I can only hope that, to like my, my freshman and sophomore, teammates that they're able to look at, like what I've done along with the other successful people in Wyoming and to see out rounds.

Nationals because they, they were able to watch me and watch other people. I, I hope that they're able to see this and just take inspiration from it because I mean, people leaving legacies in my experience has always intimidated me, but it's something that should inspire them. And I, and I hope that's the case for them in these future years.

Lyle: You touched on it, but I think it's just, it's so important for us to have these kind of breakthrough moments in our Wyoming community. And we've had many of 'em in the last five years, folks. Advancing to the semifinals and finals and national champions. Mm-hmm and, but it's, I think it's really important for folks to understand that the elite performers that we have in our state are elite performers in the nation as well.

Carly: Mm-hmm and. I mean that's right where you were mm-hmm you belonged with all those people , which is really amazing to think about. Yeah. , it's still hard for me to believe that, honestly.

Lyle: how did you get there? Like, what was your path like? What have you done as a performer to push yourself, to get to a place where that really is who you are as a performer?

Carly: It took a lot of perseverance, like the beginning, not having a lot of faith in myself and then seeing how. How that translated into my events and not just doing as well as I could, motivated me and pushed me to work every single night and memorize my lines earlier than I was doing before. And just do the work and put distinction and put new and fun things into my pieces to, to help other people, understand.

I guess it was just like the perseverance that really helped me along the way. Understanding my capability, my capacity and , not being disheartened by other competitors and not being disheartened by me, procrastinating because I can get past that. And I've learned that it's really inspiring to get past that or sure. I.

Lyle: I just think about, so Cindy Glasson the person that I've coached with here at Thermopolis often uses you as an example, for a lot of reasons, because you're an amazing competitor, but your work ethic is special.

It's something that other people notice. Even though you're having a lot of success at tournaments, you always do the little things. You always prepare in a way that's serious at every single tournament, you make sure that you're practicing your pieces in between rounds. You're listening to feedback from judges and people and integrating that in ways that even people from outside of your team can see.

So those are little things that we've often tried to encourage our students to do, but, uh, is that like a product of just, stuff that's self learned help from coaches help from your mom, from seeing your family members, or kind of a journey that, just, took you to that place?

Carly: It, I mean, it, I feel like it's a mixture of almost all of those things. Just, My my freshman year going into my first tournament and seeing people talk to walls. And I've seen that before. And it was scary to think that I was competing against those people, like for the first time ever.

And just seeing that and them encouraging me to do the exact same thing. And it really does relieve a lot of nerves to do that as well, to, to make sure that you have that piece in your mind, make sure it's not too familiar to the point where it's just, you know, it so well that the audience knows it so well, but,.

Encouragement for my coaches as well, because they always tell me to just focus all of my energy and all of my passion into what I am doing and my events and, not to look elsewhere, and not to put my energy towards something that's not productive. And also another productive thing to put your energy towards is like making friends and making connections.

And that also helps a lot with like able to like, Like the ability to just focus intently on what you were doing and the people around you. Yeah, I guess it was a journey and, recognizing what people were doing around me and listening to my coaches and what they wanted me to do to really focus.

And my mom always gets on me about that because I am a big procrastinator and I like to look at TikTok and I like to look at Instagram and like behind the scenes, people don't see that. But, um, Like, I, I don't want that to be a deterrent to me. Like I, I want to be able to, um, push in my pieces and just figure out new things to do.

Lyle: And I'm sure, I mean, balance is important too. And I think that's hopefully something you feel like you're getting closer to all the time. Mm-hmm I mean, I feel like I'm seeing more balance than you over the last couple years, as opposed to when you started. And yeah, I just, I don't know. I mean, it just feels like you're getting more confident, but also comfortable being yourself and.

Yeah, that's really important. Definitely. Because one of the things I wanted to touch on is your leadership too role on your team? What was it like kind of getting into a leadership position on your team, too.

Carly: It coming from a family of six and being the youngest, I'm not used to being a leader and like, I've always kind of been on the sidelines growing up and it's, I, I guess I've taken a lot of what I know from what I see.

And so. Joe Joseph Thornton was a big example for me because he was the leader my sophomore year. And so I, I saw what he was doing and it's a big role to fill, honestly. And I, I made a lot of mistakes being the leader as well. I was too snappy at sometimes like some points and I was too high strung about it when I really didn't need to.

And I mean, just learning from those experiences and understanding that my team is young, especially this year. They, they were very young and, it just like a role of understanding, I used to be in that position as well. And so, yeah, like I said, just like taking from what I see.

Lyle: We'll probably come back to leadership a little bit in a minute because I do, I want to talk about gender bias and speech and debate. And one of the things I do want to talk to you about is the, the role of leadership for, for girls in speech and debate community too. And how important that is. But is there any like interpretive advice that you would just, that you have crystallized that you'd like to give to people about?

You know, not just maybe humor, but just performance in general. Just anything that you've learned along the way that's really helpful.

Carly: yeah. I mean, Main thing for me all of these years was making sure that I was having fun with my pieces and that I was resonating with them, making sure that whatever you choose is what you resonate with and what is important to you because in the end, that's, what's gonna motivate you.

And that's, what's gonna motivate you to talk about these kinds of things. Making sure that competition, isn't the first thing in your head when it comes to speech and debate, because that is going to discourage you and that's gonna disappoint you. And I've learned that from experience. And so just making sure that you leave around feeling good about yourself and feeling good about your performance, because that's the only thing you can really control.

You can't control the judges' thoughts or your competitor's reactions. , it's all about you and it's about how you feel. And so. Just making sure that you resonate and that you're having fun because that is what you're gonna take away after graduating or after leaving speech and debate is, is how you felt during the rounds and you control how you feel.

Lyle: That's some good stuff. so, uh, So, as you know, we're trying to talk about and think about equality and speech and debate in that universe and the season of, of one clap and something we could always be thinking about. I think, and I just, you know, I, I just recently had you on a panel discussion, but first off in terms of gender bias and in the interpretive world, you've touched on this in our discussion, but I think.

I think there is sort of an assumption that because there's a lot of females who do interpretive performances and because interpretive performances rely on acting and emotions that there's less gender bias or there's less problems with that in the interpretive world than there are in the, the debate world. But in our discussion, a lot of things came out that would suggest that there are plenty of issues with gender bias in the interpretive world as well. Would you, is there, are there a couple of things that you could talk to about that? Like what are some of the issues that, that you've noticed that exist in that universe for gender bias?

Carly: Um, yeah, I feel like first and foremost is like the disproportionate, Numbers of like how many, female identifying people go into their, their prelims. And then how many of those female identifying people go into the out rounds and you see there's a disproportioned, number between the men in the women.

Like usually you see men more in the outruns than you do see women in the outruns and. I mean, it is just about like the numbers, honestly, because if there is 10 women and like two men, usually those two men will go out to the out rounds and that's a commonality that you see a lot of the time.

And also what, what Dani and I talked about was the. The voice yes. And even during this podcast, I've been making my voice lower. And I, I realize that like this, this is not my voice, but I don't know what my actual voice is. like, I, I, because performances forced you into a place where you kind of, whenever you perform mm-hmm you just go to that voice mm-hmm because it's effective.

Yeah. And it's a sad reality that that woman feel the need to adjust. That we have to make our voices lower in, in order to come across as more strong as, or more dominant or push ourselves. And, physicality is a very big, factor into interpretation and some judges, um, have this, preconceived notion that humor is about like distinction of voice and range and like how much you can do rather than the interpretation itself. And I feel like that really shouldn't be it because, I mean, it is humorous interpretation after all, not humorous. How much can you do yeah, I think physically that becomes an issue as well.

Lyle: Mm-hmm because, I mean, you just, you don't have to think back too far to Dallas, the final stage in humor. Where, he was a fabulous performer, but he was doing splits and kicks and mm-hmm, really specific, weird things with his eyes and the body capabilities for different kinds of people are different mm-hmm and there's some bias built in there, not only for females, but also for folks that have disabilities.

Carly: Exactly. I mean, yeah, People or some judges can see it as less. If you can't make your voice go from super low to super high. And, like scientifically speaking, women don't have the vocal range that men do. And , so it's hard to try to match those energies. And it's hard to try to like stretch yourself to do what like the national men do with what you're talking about with all the splits and all the, the singing it's honestly like it is discouraging to see. And I, I mean, I hope that judges can soon realize that, it's not about the range. It's just about what you can do, what your interpretation is. Honestly.

Lyle: Yeah. And I, I know NSDA is they've gone to great length to try to help folks with trainings that will eliminate some forms of bias. But, but, but some of the stuff we're talking about is forms of bias that I'm not even sure that they would acknowledge. I mean, that's a, those are, that's a difficult place to have discussions, but it's a place we have to, we need to have those discussions.

Carly: Yeah, exactly. It's a, it's a difficult. It's a difficult thing to talk about is it's like, how do you tell somebody? It's like, oh, because this person has like a higher range. You can't, you can't put them first automatically because of that. Like, because their physicality is bigger. Don't place them first because of that, because there's so many factors that play into it and it becomes so convoluted at the end of the day.

But I, I really feel like there is something. Distinct that we can implement within our judges and within NSDA coaching. I haven't really like honed in on that just yet, but I mean, I've been thinking about that ever since our last podcast of how we could like, narrow those, all those factors into something that's that judges can actually take from

Well, I think part of the process of figuring that out is having discussions like this, where we can start thinking through what would work mm-hmm um, cause yeah, I. Something has to happen or else we're gonna continue to have the same issues. Mm-hmm one of the things I think is really important is that.

To help with gender bias issues in our community is that we continue to put female competitors into leadership roles on teams and embrace that because at the team based level, there needs to be training and conversations. And that's where I think a lot of change can happen if at that level at every team level.

Lyle: That we're talking about these issues. Mm-hmm and I think female leadership is one of those ways that that can really happen. Now we see in Wyoming, a lot of female leadership on teams. I mean, I guess I want your thoughts on whether you think that we could do more there, if there's something that coaches and male allies can do to help with, you know, making sure that there's comfort levels in leadership. I, I don't know. I think that's a route we can go though, to try to do more. Yeah. Do you have any ideas or thoughts there?

Carly: Yeah. Well, I, I think it's definitely important to have an equal basis of what your leadership looks like. I mean, to have, maybe a male or a female or anything in between to, to really lead the team.

And it is important because the societal standard of leadership is men . And that's a hard reality. And it's like, it's something that I hope that we can push past. And it's something that's inspiring to see, like how many female leaders, like you were talking about that are in speech and debate.

And, I guess. It's not necessarily about like females dominating leadership, but more about equality within leadership. So whether that be like having a, a female captain or a male co-captain or vice versa or something in between of, of having that, or just, allowing. Our voices to be heard as like a female.

I want my voice to be heard and I want my, male counterparts to listen to me. And it's always good. It's always good to see that my voice is recognized within my community. And so just to have that trend that, that continues and hopefully gets better, honestly, just to listen. Yeah. And just to keep talking about it. Yeah, yeah. Breaking down those, those biases that it's debate is a male sport and understanding. Everyone can play that sport there, there really isn't any, limitations as far as being like female or male, like objectively speaking, like they both have capacity to be as intelligent as each other.

And that. That should be known and people should take that into account in consideration that it really doesn't have to be a male led sport.

Lyle: Yeah. I mean, we, in the speech and debate community are pretty braggadocious about how equal, how we have a lot of equity, how we inclusive, how we want all different kinds of people. Mm-hmm , but we need to figure out ways to make sure that that's actually true when it comes to every event that we compete in mm-hmm when, when it comes to competition that everyone has equal opportunity for success. And that's, we still have some issues with that, for sure.

Carly: People just need to take accountability. Like we were talking about in the a quality podcast. Yep.

Lyle: So let's, let's like move into some personal stuff. Just like, what's next for you, Carly? Where are you headed? What are you, what are you gonna do?

Carly: So I am headed to the university of Wyoming, in the fall. I plan on being there for the next couple years. I, I still haven't figured out if I wanna transfer credits because it is expensive. I don't come from a family of. Super well so it's, it's hard to like put my passions towards like, schools that really, specialize in film or acting, which I I've always wanted to do.

And I guess it's something that I have to build up to. So right now I'm taking what I can get and just making the most out of it, going to theater and dance, majoring in that,, mm-hmm, minoring in journalism, hopefully. And. Just taking that experience and hopefully exploring the rest of the world with it going to maybe California or New York would be my next step of seeing what I can do as in like film and acting wise.

Lyle: Journalism is really cool. We desperately need journalists that have integrity and mm-hmm that will, make sure that folks know what's happening in the world. Are you a writer? Do you like to write?

Carly: You know, sometimes I haven't because of my, passion has been filled so much with like speech and debate in like theater. Like the, this, my senior year was so busy that I didn't have the opportunity to write, but I know that during COVID, I, I did enjoy writing and, It's kind of like, I view it as the same platform as speech and debate, like journalism, just getting your voice heard and, your opinion matters. And, letting the people know from an informed, position.

Lyle: So you also dabble in social media. I mean, I just know that you have some TikToks.

I haven't like watched all of 'em or anything, but, I know that you're active on TikTok and that you're active on socials. So have you thought at all about starting some sort of project

Carly: I've honestly, I I've always had that in the back of my mind, always wanting to it. It's such a big community of people that want that same aspiration.

And so it's hard to find the motivation to have that, but honestly, it's like the same motive of like humor. Like I just have to have fun with it and I have to understand because. I mean making talks and seeing people like, and share like the, the ones that have gone viral is really cool to see

and it's like a social experiment, right? Yeah. You're like, oh, that was the one. Yeah. Interesting. and it's usually the ones that I have fun with. And so like maybe I, I could put something that, a project into just like having fun and showing my creativity and that would be rewarding in itself. If it didn't get viral,

Lyle: Cool. Well, if you ever need any help getting started on a podcast, where to go. that'd be great. Yeah. I got a lot of resources. Um, so, let's talk about speech and debate in general for just a second. Like what has been the best part about speech and debate for you?

Carly: Probably the connections that I've shared among my teammates and my competitors, my judges, my coaches, and the connections that I've shared with myself.

Going to the external part first. Just like making so many friends, making so many connections during my past four years, being able to talk to people outside of rounds and being able to laugh with them about certain things and just like have inside jokes. I mean, that, that connection is truly something sacred.

And, especially with my teammates, Ashton Griffin is like my, my best friend now he's, he's sitting in, in this room with us, but, um, he, he came into the speech and debate world and, I was able to mentor him. And after that, we just like immediately clicked and that's. And it's been so rewarding for me, and it's been so beneficial and like it opens your eyes as well and making connections with the world as well.

Being able to inform yourself with what other people are presenting to you is very inspiring. And coaches as well. I, I share a lot of connections with my mom, just over speech and debate. And it's, it's cool to converse about that. And with Rebecca Pearson as well, it's cool to have that connection.

And I mean, as far as the internal part, . What I was saying about being informed. It's like I learned a lot about myself and we were talking about this earlier, how I was like more high strung and more stressful. , I was very, I was very stressed during my freshman and sophomore year. And then after understanding like the, the capacity and being inspired from people rather than being intimidated, that made me learn so much for myself. And I'm able to be way more poised and way more confident about myself as well.

Lyle: I always like to give people a chance to just say anything that they want to say about the speech and debate community. Is there anything else you'd like to add at all?

Carly: Yeah. The, the baseline of speech and debate, getting your voice out there.

Lyle: are you gonna miss it? I mean, cuz you'll be involved in theater, right? Mm-hmm but yeah, that's like the interpretive world's probably gonna kind of slip away for a while.

Carly: Mm-hmm I I've always thought about that. Just like entering this high school, um, like Theopolis high school and remembering me going in my pink suit and just like yeah, it was a cool pink suit. Thank you. yeah, just like ready to perform and then just having all of that nostalgia. I am really going to miss it. It's been a part of my life and not to say that it's not gonna be a part of my life anymore because I plan on going to a lot of tournaments. My, my freshman year of college, like to the high school tournaments and hopefully judging and helping out my team.

Lyle: cool. Yeah. Well, our tournament, hopefully it'll be the first weekend, January. So you might still be on Christmas break. So maybe you can, of course you can travel with the team and come judge or something.

Carly: I would love that. That's that's my goal. amazing.

Lyle: So an really important question. What is your go to speech and debate snack? You know, you're, you're at a tournament you need to sneak in some food. What do you do for sustenance?

Carly: Okay. This one is not hard to think about. It's always been Gogo, squeezes, apple sauce. They're so easy. Gogo, squeezes, apple sauce, like the little ones with a cap where you need the ones made for children.

They're they're so easy and shout out to, my duo partner, Isaac because he was the one that like first bought it at a tournament and they were, they were so easy because I imagine a lot of my competitors can agree that it's hard to eat during competition because you're so stressed and you're so like just like thinking in performance realm, not really outside realm.

And so it's, it's hard to eat, but getting those Gogo squeezes, just a little bit of substance and being able to like cap them and like save them for later. If you can do that. I Don. How you would be able to save a Gogo squeeze. I eat them in like two seconds, but they're good. They're really good.

Lyle: yeah, no, that's a great idea. Like I would get a lot of protein, well nuts or, or bars because bars are compact and they mm-hmm but Gogo squeeze is a good idea.

Carly: They're compact as well. Yeah. They're quick. And they're different. They're fruity apples are good for the voice and yeah.

Lyle: Apples are good for the voice. Is that true?

Carly: yeah. I, I, every musical I'm in, I always drink apple juice. Interesting. Because my, my choir teacher told me that that was beneficial. Obviously not the ones with a lot of sugar because that coats your throat in your tongue but apple juice does help along with applesauce.

Lyle: Well, shoot. I should be drinking apple juice right now.

Carly: You should for next time. . Exactly.

Lyle: Well awesome. Thank you so much, Carly, for traveling here and talking to me.

Carly: Yeah, of course. It's been really fun.


Many thanks to Carly for coming by One Clap and sharing her story, her experiences, and her ideas with us.

Be on the lookout for these upcoming episodes: recently graduated Natrona County HS superstar Zoey Pickett stops by to discuss Extemporaneous Speaking and female leadership and two more panel discussions with women in the Speech and Debate community are also in the works! I am, admittedly, way behind and hard pressed for time to edit, but I’ll do my best to get this content out asap.

This year, maybe consider supporting One Clap Speech and Debate by checking out our patreon page (linked below). You can partner with me on this journey for as little as 1 dollar a month and stop patronage at any time! Special thanks to our patrons: Terry, Tina, Brenda, Aaron T., Melissa, Marcus, Laura, Londe, Ashley S, Joel, Matt, Allen, Ashley M., Aaron L., Izzy, and Rick.

Thank you all for your support! Your voice matters!


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