When children are born, they possess unique gifts. They may have great athletic ability, have the mind to break down the most complicated problems, or be able to create a musical masterpiece adored by millions. However, in order for that gift to reach its full potential, it must be developed. For the students on the speech team, their talent is the gift of gab.
The team is coached by Dr. Kerry Owens of the Department of Communication and Media Studies. He coaches in tandem with his wife, Kathy Owens. Together they have been with the UMHB program for six years.
“Coaching with my wife makes my job much easier. She’s very good at teaching students delivery skills while I prefer working with them on the content and organization.”
Not to be confused with debate, the team travels all over the state giving speeches that they compose and deliver. Unlike the athletic programs, they are not separated by divisions. They regularly compete against big schools like Texas State University, Texas A&M, West Texas A&M and even the University of Texas.
Their last competition took place Feb. 14 and 15 in which the team participated in the Speech on the Beach individual events tournament at Del Mar and San Jacinto College in Corpus Christi.
Senior psychology major Dane’ll Leigh placed fifth in programmed oral interpretation of literature, freshman nursing major Jennifer Lum placed third in dramatic interpretation of literature, senior finance major Ruby Bowen placed second overall and senior performance studies major Adrian Turner placed second in duo interpretation of literature, as well as in prose reading.
Both coaches were pleased with the results. Bowen’s second place overall ranking was a new plateau for the squad.
“I’m extremely proud of our team this year,” Kathy Owens said. “We’ve never had a student place in individual sweeps before. It’s just astonishing.”
No matter what students’ backgrounds or majors are, the team is always looking for willing, interested participants. Turner is one of the more recent additions to the team. Most people know him as Tank.
“That name came from high school football,” Turner said. “I was known for being able to hit people hard and move people out of the way. Now, most people don’t know what my real name is.”
He played four years of football with the Cru as a fullback, winning conference championships three out of the four.
Owens was intrigued with Turner’s speaking ability after his fall performance in the play Twelve Angry Jurors. Since then, he has done four competitions with the speech team including prose and duo. He works with partner, Bowen, in the duo events.
“We perform together almost like acting, but we can’t look at each other or touch each other,” Turner said. “It’s really interesting.”
The team competes all year long, and they usually do about eight to ten tournaments. This season has come to an end, but there is still work to be done. Until next fall, the Owens couple bounces around ideas of possible material and works on ways to improve. They think that the more work they do now, the more prepared they’ll be for next fall.
Turner is set to graduate in May but reflects on his experience.
“After doing speech team, I’ve come to really enjoy it. It’s one of those things where I wish I had more time. I wish I would have done it earlier.”