Creation of first all-girls speech tournament earns Girls Scout Gold Award

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Sabrina Richard’s first appearance in the National Speech and Debate Tournament in 2019 was eye-opening.

At the tournament in Dallas she noted the male dominance in several categories, and that gave her an idea for a Girl Scout Gold Award project.

Richard, a member of Carmel Girl Scout Troop 906 who just completed her junior year at Westfield High School, was awarded Girl Scout Gold Award for creating the nation’s first all-girls speech meet, “Speech for Success, Women’s Words Matter.” Richard said her WHS speech and debate coach, Holly Reineking, was enthusiastic about the idea and helped her organize it.

“In November 2020, we did it virtually, but it was the first-ever girls-only speech and debate meet, even though there are meets for just boys,” Richard said. “That was a big honor to have.”

Along with her coach and family, Richard said she worked more than 100 hours on the project. More than 115 girls from 18 Indiana high schools, including WHS, participated. Richard had to run the entire meet and scoring system remotely while her speech coaches were at the school assisting her. Gold Award recipients will be honored July 11 by Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

Richard raised money enough through donations to pay for the tabulation program and provide ribbons and trophies. She plans to hold the event again in the fall.

“I’m hoping to do it as an in-person event in October or November,” said Richard, who not only ran the tournament but also competed in it.

Richard will compete in the National Speech and Debate Tournament, which will be held virtually June 13-19. She also qualified for the 2020 tournament, which was held virtually.

Her WHS teammate Elaine Quirke, a 2021 graduate, also will compete in the national tournament. Quirke helped Richard with the all-girls speech meet.

“People participate from all 50 states and other countries,” Richard said of nationals. “Seeing people do what they love is something that is always exciting about nationals for me.”

Richard became the third person, and the first junior, from WHS to earn Academic All-American honors from the National Speech and Debate Association earlier this year.

Richard doesn’t have any set goal for upcoming competitions.

“It just an honor to be there,” Richard said. “I think I have a cool speech and am proud of what I’ve done this year. I don’t expect to place, but it would be really fun if I did.”

Richard’s speech is about New York City in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“It’s also about it prevailing through COVID,” she said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in New York and really love and admire the city. I’ve been to all of the 9/11 memorials. I think it’s a moment in history really important to Americans.”

Richard appeared on a season of the Food Network’s “Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-off” during the summer of 2015. She was a semifinalist and the sous chef for the winner on the final episode. In 2016, Richard was a judge on “Beat Bobby Flay”. In 2017, she was on “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

“Having my interest in public speaking in Girl Scouts helped with the Food Network,” Richard said. “That led me to doing speech and debate in middle school.”


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