Hall County will have two competitors in the National Speech & Debate Association tournament for the first time ever. The national event starts Sunday and lasts until June 17 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Joey Wigley, a recent graduate of North Hall High School, and Pilar Corso, a junior at Johnson High School, will compete in the national tournament.
Wigley qualified in U.S. extemporaneous speaking in February, and Corso qualified at the congressional senate debate in March.
The two are coached by a husband-wife team. Steven Wang is the North Hall High coach and has been for a decade.
His wife, Charity Wang, has coached Johnson High for six years. She was named the Georgia Speech Coach of the Year, Corso said.
The school teams competed in seven regular-season events and two postseason tournaments, Steven Wang said.
At the national tournament, Steven Wang said, competitors will speak in six preliminary rounds by the middle of Tuesday.
Students who win in the preliminary rounds compete in supplemental events Wednesday and Thursday, he said. Those who lose in the first rounds compete in six more rounds from Tuesday to Friday.
Wigley said his event involves analysis of current events through argument. He said he prepares 30 minutes for a seven-minute speech.
He said he expects to speak on foreign policy, economics and the Obama administration, among other topics.
“I joined speech and debate because I wanted to expose myself to arguments on both sides and to exercise my public speaking skills,” Wigley said. “I did both of those while making amazing friends with people like Pilar (Corso) and from schools all over the state.”
Wigley plans to attend Baylor University this summer and study economics and pre-law.
He plans to join the school’s mock trial team and join the Air Force Judge Advocate General after college. Long-term, Wigley said, he plans to run for public office.
He represented North Hall at the American Legion’s Boys State in 2015 and was on the school’s academic team.
Corso said she expects to give speeches “on a variety of bills concerning the country that can range from whether or not to establish an American embassy in Iran to enacting the Save America From Drug Addiction Act of 2016.”
“At nationals, the amount of time you have to speak entirely depends on how prepared you are to give speeches,” Corso said by email. “At any time, a senator can stand to be recognized to give a speech.
“Personally, I like to write speeches for all of the potential bills set for the docket. This way, I will be able to give as many speeches as possible.”
She said she plans to write speeches for more than 40 bills that will be on the national agenda.
She is an international baccalaureate candidate, is part of the Johnson International Scholars Academy and was an exchange student to Ecuador in the summer and fall of 2015.
Both Corso and Wigley have been in speech and debate for two years.
“Debate is my main focus and takes up most of my weekends,” Corso said.
Wigley is the son of Brett and Adele Wigley, of Brookton, and Corso is the daughter of Arturo and Phaedra Corso, of Gainesville.
The students continue to see donations to help pay for the trip, Steven Wang said. Anyone who would like to contribute may email Steven Wang at firstname.lastname@example.org.