Led by junior Kay Rollins, Potomac’s speech and debate team turned in an impressive performance at the annual Tournament of Champions (TOC) National Championship, hosted virtually by the University of Kentucky last weekend. To be eligible to compete in the TOC, a student must have placed in the final rounds at two national circuit qualifying events during the regular season. Potomac had eight students qualify in nine events as part of the 1,100-student field.
Head Coach Harry Strong notes, “Our team achieved incredible results this year. Just making the TOC field is a big deal, let alone winning at this level. And to perform so well when the game was changed to a virtual format says a lot about our students.”
Kay Rollins won not one, but two individual national championships at the tournament, adding to her rapidly growing trophy case. She ranked first in the nation in extemporaneous speaking and original oratory. Last year, Kay ranked first in extemporaneous speaking. Additionally, as an eighth grader, she won the extemporaneous speaking category at the NSDA Middle School Championship and accomplished a dual win in the TOC Middle School Championship. Her extraordinary career now includes six individual national titles, with three of them won as an Upper School team member. She is the only “extemper” ever to win two TOC championships in a row, and the second-ever person to win two TOC championships in a single year.
Competing alongside Kay in the original oratory category were two impressive Potomac quarterfinalists: Samira Abbasi ’22 and Christian Herald ’21. Maryam Abbasi ’20 (public forum debate), Sara Abbasi ’20 (public forum debate), and Valentina Raghib ’22 (original oratory) also gave strong performances.
In addition, Kaitlyn Maher ’21 achieved a phenomenal third-place finish in congressional debate. Alex Joel ’21 was a semifinalist in the same event. Both Kaitlyn and Alex finished significantly better than the tournament seeding that they began with.
Reflecting on her performance at the TOC, Kay notes, “My big goal this year was to do as well in extemp as I did last year – I was really proud of last year’s speech, and I wanted to do that well again. Meanwhile, my oratory is very special to me; it expresses what I wish someone had told me as a middle schooler and as a freshman.” Coach Strong observes, “Kay is one of those special students who are both talented and driven to succeed. No one is going to outwork her; she is always well prepared!”
He concludes, “Potomac’s performance at the TOC was really remarkable – the best we’ve ever done at the national championship level. I am so proud of our entire team.”
To view videos of Kay’s and Kaitlyn’s speeches from the TOC, click here.