Marian Speech Team ignites passion, educates students


Shradha Mamilla ’26 and Mackenzie Reidy ’25 pose with their awards at the Creighton Prep Speech tournament on Dec. 10. Mamilla got fifth in persuasive speaking and Reidy won the category. Photo source @marianspeechteam Instagram.

Thousands of middle school, high school and college students participate in speech competitions across the world. At Marian, a collection of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors make up the Speech Team. From November to March, Speech students travel around the metro area performing speech after speech, gaining confidence and building community along the way. 

Speech isn’t just writing about an interesting topic and compiling it into a wordy Google Doc. While inevitably there are categories that encompass researching and writing an original speech, there are also speech interpretations that are similar to that of acting such as Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation and Duo Interpretation. 

Other Speech categories include Prose, Persuasive Speaking, Poetry, Informative Speaking and Extemporaneous Speaking. A wide variety of speech categories allow students to express themselves in a number of ways. 

Sophomore Mackenzie Reidy finds self expression in creating and performing in Persuasive Speaking. Reidy began her speech career only one year ago as a freshman. “I decided to take Speech because I thought it would help improve my public speaking skills, but it was also an extra class that I could take freshman year that caught my attention.” 

A seemingly spontaneous decision by Reidy during her freshman year has now developed into a zealous passion. In the past two speech seasons, she has ranked in the top five overall at numerous competitions, even taking first place at times. And while speech can often be demanding with the absence of a class this year, Reidy’s dedication has never dwindled.

“I love speech. I’m really fortunate that I get to hear a bunch of different causes. I leave feeling more educated, but I also get to share what I’m passionate about,” Reidy said.  

This year, Reidy wrote a speech about how society as a whole is taking the easy way out and how it hurts humanity. She stumbled upon her topic while sitting in her Honors American Literature Class taught by Ms. Susie Sisson. 

“My current speech is actually inspired by ‘Fahrenheit 451.’ There was a quote like ‘The zipper replaces the button and we lose that much time to think.’ I thought, we try to make things easier for ourselves constantly, but is it really helping us? From there I built my speech,” Reidy said.

Reidy often compares speech to a second learning environment. “I like to think of it as almost a second school. I go here [Marian] and I learn a lot of the basic subjects, but then I go to a tournament right after school and I get to continue that, but with important causes.” 

Reidy commits many hours outside of school to perfect her speech, too. She meets one to two times a week with speech coaches Mrs. Jen Christen and Marian alumna Mary Pistillo ’11. Additionally, in the weeks of preparation leading up to the speech season, Reidy saves time on the weekends to research her topic. 

Out of all the ways speech has impacted Reidy, she is most inspired by the Marian speech community. “Whether you’re from a middle school that’s done speech or you’ve never heard of it before, everyone is ready to learn. We all come into it with an open mindset ready to build a community with each other. That’s why I fell in love with speech.” 

Additionally, Christen calls on students to seek out speech because “the speech team gives confidence, poise and an opportunity to share your voice.” 

Reidy and the rest of the speech team will continue competing throughout the second semester until the speech season comes to a close on March 16 at the NSAA Speech Championship. Students who are interested in speech should contact Christen ( for more information.

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