Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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13 speech team members make sectionals, two place sixth at state

Senior+Harshee+Shah%2C+co-captain+of+Central%E2%80%99s+speech+team%2C+practices+her+speech+for+the+IHSA+speech+state+championship.+Shah+placed+sixth+in+Oratorical+Declamation+at+the+competition+on+Feb.+17.
Jay Deegan
Senior Harshee Shah, co-captain of Central’s speech team, practices her speech for the IHSA speech state championship. Shah placed sixth in Oratorical Declamation at the competition on Feb. 17.

Naperville Central’s speech team wrapped up their season by sending two competitors to IHSA state finals on Feb. 16 and 17. Senior Harshee Shah placed sixth in Oratorical Declamation, while junior Nina Rao placed sixth in Original Oratory.

The team had 13 competitors at the Hoffman Estates sectional on Feb. 10., with Shah and Rao each placing third, earning them their spots at the state finals. 

“It’s honestly very surreal,” Shah said. “I didn’t realize how big a deal it was until I kind of thought back in retrospect.”

For Shah, this season was one of redemption after not advancing past regionals last year.

“It was really hard for me to keep having the motivation to do better this year,” Shah said. “But once I overcame that and realized that this was my last year, I just wanted to have fun. That was what pushed me through.”

In the week leading up to state finals, the team came together to prepare Shah and Rao for the competition.

“My goal was just to get kids there and try to give them anything that I could to get them to that level, because they’re so capable,” Speech head coach Emily Rigik said. “Giving time, effort and energy to what they need to succeed was the goal.”

Competing in the Hoffman Estates sectional posed a challenge for the team, as four of the top 10 teams at state finals came from that sectional.

“It’s been very tough competitively,” said Athena Chen, senior and team co-captain. “We do coaching every day after school for like, maybe two to three hours. It’s a lot of practicing on your own, coaching with other members and coaches.”

This season was a year of transition for the team, who lost a large group of graduating seniors as well as former head coach Jeremy Lin. This forced a lot of adjustments and a bit of a learning curve.

“[Last year], we had a class of 20 to 25 seniors, so that was a huge chunk of the seniors just went out competitively,” Chen said. “We’re less competitive than we were last year because the number of experienced members decreased, but I think we’re still able to preserve the same team culture.”

Rigik, who served as an assistant coach for four years, was chosen to take over as head coach for this season. 

“I was really lucky to learn a lot from [Lin], he taught me everything I needed to know,” Rigik said. “The biggest change was all the things and you care a lot more as the head coach than as an assistant coach. I don’t know why that is, but my heart felt a lot more invested this year.”

According to Shah, the culture that the team developed came to be a highlight of her experience throughout four years of speech.

“A lot of people on speech joke that we’re like a cult because of how everyone’s so tight knit,” Shah said. “Speech friends are also often school friends, which sometimes you don’t see in other sports. It’s just been the community that is my favorite part, and I’m sad to be leaving it.”

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About the Contributors
Nolan Shen
Nolan Shen, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Nolan is a senior, entering his third year on staff. He is excited to be heading the Arts and Entertainment section this year. When not writing for CT, he can be found playing with the Marching Redhawks Drumline, performing in the Naperville Youth Symphony, eating too much McDonald’s, and watching bad sci-fi movies. Next year, he plans on going to college to study political science and hopefully not flunk out.
Jay Deegan
Jay Deegan, Print Managing Editor
Jay Deegan is a Junior at Central and happy to start his third year of journalistic adventures at the Central Times. Jay loves writing features and diving in-depth into issues that plague our community. In his free time Jay runs a freelance videography and photography business and loves to creatively express his interests in sports and filmmaking. If you’d like to join CT or have a tip, reach out!
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