Schotzko champion at state speech

MARSHALL – The Marshall Tiger Speech Team brought home the gold Saturday. Senior Ashley Schotzko was named the 2016 Class AA State Champion in great speeches.

“When Ashley took first in our very competitive section, I knew she’d have a shot of finishing in the top four, but to win state, you’ve got to have a really good day,” said coach Rick Purrington. “Ashley knew going in that with her preparation and focus, she was ready to have a good day.”

Marshall junior Kassidy Tocco also competed at state this year in the category of informative and finished 12th out of 24.

“There was a lot of good competition there, Kassidy and I had our work cut out for us,” Schotzko said.

Purrington said that out of the 24 state qualifiers in the category, Schotzko advanced to the final round after three rounds of preliminary competition as the first seed among the top eight competitors. Schotzko received a first-place rank from three of the five judges, securing her win in the great speeches category.

“Ashley steps it up when the pressure is on – she isn’t scared of it, she loves it,” Purrington said. “When she was done with that final round and we were waiting for the results to come in, she said to me, ‘that, was so fun.'”

“I was definitely surprised and excited by it,” Schotzko said of her win. “I just told myself to have fun and do my best.”

Schotzko’s competition piece was a historic 1962 speech by former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins called “The Roots of Social Security.”

“It was a bit of challenge to make Social Security more interesting than you would assume,” Schotzko said with a laugh. “But Frances Perkins was spunky lady, so she made my job easier.”

In the great speeches category, competitors are expected to choose a great speech from history, deliver excerpts from it, and analyze with research as to why it should be considered great, Purrington said. Assistant coach Carol Purrington helped Schotzko come up with the idea for her speech, Purrington said, and worked closely with her throughout the season.

“In order to be a champion in great speeches, you’ve got to be able to do it all. You’ve got to be smart and clever in your analysis but also strong and commanding in your presence,” Purrington said. “She worked hard in the week leading up to state on making sure her analysis really proved Perkins’ impact on America. And when you add that to her impressive physical poise and vocal command of the audience – she was really hard to beat in that tough, tough final round. In speech, you can’t just do one thing well and win state. You’ve got to be prepared to do it all – and that’s Ashley.”

Schotzko is the Tiger Speech Team’s 26th state speech champion since the team’s inception in 1972, Purrington said. The team’s last state champion was Jessica Oaxaca in 2013.