Sahil Sood first found an interest in speech and debate when he was in sixth grade.
His social studies teacher urged him to join the school’s club, and without really knowing why or what speech and debate really entailed, he attended his first meeting.
“I immediately fell in love,” Sood said. “I enjoyed the nuanced political discussions that occurred during a debate round and the adrenaline rush.”
He has stuck with speech and debate ever since that first meeting, taking part in competitions and taking on leadership roles within the club.
Now a junior at Lambert High School, Sood is the president of the speech and debate club, and he has led his peers to top rankings in both national and international competitions. Under his presidency, he and his peers were able to bring what was once an unranked team to the Top 3 in the world.
The Forsyth County News spoke with Sood about what led the team to such success in the competition world, some of his proudest accomplishments in speech and debate and how it feels to compete on an international stage.
What would you say has been your proudest accomplishment since taking over as club president at Lambert?
“Since taking over as club president at Lambert, my proudest accomplishment has definitely been facilitating the growth of the program. The Lambert Speech and Debate program has always generated a lot of interest in my school, but many of the students were never able to see their potential to become high level debaters, which is why our program was unranked nationally at the beginning of my term.
However, by the end of my first year as club president, our public forum debate team rose to be ranked second in the world. I am hoping to use this year to help increase our ranking in other speech and debate events as well to help Lambert get increased recognition internationally.”
What competitions have you taken part in?
“Personally, I have competed in several national competitions, including the Bellaire Forensic Tournament in Texas, the Grapevine Classic in Texas, the Durham invitational in North Carolina, and the MILO Cup in Nebraska, among many others. In addition, I have competed in international tournaments hosted by Princeton, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Kentucky.
In terms of awards, I was the champion of the international tournament hosted by Princeton, and I won the national Bellaire Forensic Tournament with a perfect record, becoming one of the few debaters in history to ever win a national tournament with a perfect record.
I was also the runner up at the national Grapevine Classic Tournament, and I was in the top 10% of debaters at the Durham Invitational and at Stanford’s international tournament. This culminated in the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) ranking my partner and me as the third best debate team in the world, and the highest-ranked team from Georgia.”
How has it felt to compete on an international stage?
“It’s been a priceless experience to be able to compete against students from across the world, as you get to hear a myriad of diverse perspectives on political issues. Oftentimes, people (including myself) get caught up in their own thoughts and perspectives, and debate acts as a way to hear from others and learn new point of views on certain issues.”
What do you hope to accomplish in speech and debate this year and in your senior year at Lambert?
“My biggest goal is to grow the program and expand into other events as Lambert’s team is primarily focused on Public Forum debate in the status quo.
“However, I want to inspire students, especially younger ones, to pursue other forms of debate, like Lincoln Douglas or Policy, and speech events, like Original Oratory. [But] this extends farther than just Lambert — I want to increase participation in debate across the entire county, and potentially even the state, so that students are given this opportunity to sharpen their public speaking skills. Maybe we will see more students from Georgia getting ranked internationally in their respective events in upcoming years.”