Skip Navigation Links
Front Page
About GNSExpand About GNS
CommunitiesExpand Communities
EducationExpand Education
Links Directory
Medicine & Science
Opinion/ForumExpand Opinion/Forum
Public Safety

San Jacinto College
Debate team ranked among nation’s best for second year
News Release
Friday, May 20, 2011

HOUSTON — The San Jacinto College (SJC) speech and debate team emerged as one of the top teams in the nation for a second consecutive year after bringing home a gold, silver, and a bronze medal in the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament, held recently in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The speech and debate team won the gold medal in the Parliamentary Debate category, the silver medal in the Team Sweepstakes category, and the bronze medal in the Speech to Entertain category. The annual national tournament attracts two-year college teams from all over the nation, competing in a wide range of speech and debate categories.

A few weeks before the national tournament, the SJC team excelled at the Phi Rho Pi Regional Tournament, which includes a six-state area. The SJC team won second place in Team Sweepstakes, second place in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and second place in Impromptu Speaking. They also won four third-place trophies, and two fourth-place trophies.

At the state tournament, held earlier in the year, the SJC team won first place in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and won three second-place trophies, as well as three third-place trophies.

Additionally, the speech and debate squad brought home dozens of first, second, and third place trophies after competing in numerous tournaments around the state throughout the 2010-2011 school year.

The SJC team includes faculty advisors (coaches) Floyd McConnell and Leigh-Anne Williams, and students Russell Pannell, Amanda Alexander, William Avila, and Erika Sivils (a student at Lone Star College-North Harris who competed as a “hybrid” member with the SJC debate team).

The two coaches are understandably proud of their hard-working students, even though the students’ accomplishments ended up costing McConnell something very dear to him. “I told the students that if they won gold at nationals, then they could shave off my beard,” he remarked. “They shaved it off right after the awards ceremony at the national tournament.”

For SJC freshman William Avila, participating on the speech and debate team helped him improve important academic skills.

“I especially improved in the area of enunciation,” Avila commented. “The positive criticism from the coaches was one the best things for me. They took time to work with me, even on little words. My communication and critical thinking skills have improved immensely.” Avila plans to earn an associate degree from SJC, and then to transfer to the University of Houston-Clear Lake to study computer programming.

The outstanding results at the national, regional, and state tournaments culminated another banner year for a program that has firmly established itself as one of the premier programs in the state and nation. Last year, the SJC speech and debate team won two gold medals at the national tournament, a gold medal at the regional tournament, and excelled at the state tournament.

All three San Jacinto College campuses offer speech courses, but the College’s speech and debate team, which competes in tournaments against two-year colleges and universities, is based at the North campus. Participation on the San Jacinto College speech and debate team is open to any San Jacinto College student and team activities are part of an elective lab that earns college credit.

About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for nearly 50 years. We are committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of more than 29,000 students in over 140 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career-track choices. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of ever-changing industry in the region. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit, or find us on Facebook at

Guidry News Service is headquartered in Midtown Houston.
at 4001 Fannin Street, Suite 4109, Houston, TX. 77004-4077
(409) 763 NEWS(6397)
© 1996, Guidry News Service. Duplication of any part of this website in any manner is prohibited.