The Marshall Speech Tournament, one of the largest tournaments of the year for the Walker team, is traditionally a two day event held on a Friday and Saturday. Teams arrive on Friday morning and begin the tournament with three preliminary rounds of speaking. On Saturday morning teams return to compete in a final prelim round followed by a quarter, semi and final round. Considering the size of the tournament, rooms from Marshall High School and the SMSU campus are utilized for speaking. Schools from all over Minnesota and from several different states travel to compete in Marshall's tournament.

This year, the tournament hosted 34 schools from six different states and every corner of Minnesota, however, each team competed remotely. The Marshall tournament, like all tournaments this year, hosted their competition virtually. The tournament hosts chose the synchronous option, which required speakers to enter video conference rooms and compete live with other speakers. Additionally, the tournament was shortened to one day with three preliminary rounds and one final round. While the format this year was completely different, the tournament was similar in level of competition. Because each state has their own speech season, some teams were at the end of their season, while Minnesota has just begun. Many speakers in attendance had been competing for several months and performed with memorized and well-revised pieces. This creates a high level of competition and is a great opportunity for our own Walker speakers while they build their pieces.

Four speakers from the WHA speech team attended the competition: Natalie Resch-Seely and Ada Muller competed in the category of Discussion, and Lily and Leo Burns competed in the category of Humor. All four speakers performed well, but no one advanced to the final round.

While the virtual competition format has its own unique advantages, like short travel times and the ability to compete in multiple tournaments on the same day, there are also significant drawbacks. In the case of a two-day tournament or a tournament held on a regular school day, most teams would take a day off from school to travel and compete. Now that teams compete remotely, most speakers go to their high school to utilize the devices, fast internet and quiet speaking spaces, which requires the school to be empty or not in session. This has limited teams from hosting and attending, tournaments that require competition on a regular school day. Walker has already adjusted their schedule to avoid this conflict.

The season so far has been a learning process, but everyone involved is thankful for the opportunity to compete. So far there have only been minor issues with technology and connectivity. Each weekend speakers are still competing and earning awards. This weekend Walker will compete online at the Annual Denfeld Rotary Speech Tournament, hosted in Duluth.