About ND Speech & Debate

The Notre Dame Speech and Debate Team (formerly known as Forensics) has a long-standing tradition of excellence in competitive public speaking and debate.  Students have the opportunity to develop their communication skills as well as representing our school at several tournaments throughout the school year.

Practices currently alternate between Monday and Tuesday night from 6:30pm-8:30pm in Rooms 101 and 102. Contact Mr. Rizzo for Details.

Coach & Staff:

  • Mr. Sal Rizzo, Head Coach
  • Mr. Stuart Kramer, Assistant Debate Coach

About Coach Sal Rizzo

I have been involved with the Notre Dame Speech and Debate program (fka Forensics) for 42 years. Under the tutelage of the late Mrs. Eleanor Wise, I competed as a junior and a senior. I volunteered for the program for 14 years and I have been the coach for the better part of 26 years. I have coached several state and national award winners including the 2005 National Right to Life Oratory Contest National Champion, the 2014 National Speech and Debate Association Congressional Debate House National Champion and several state champions. Also one of my students was selected to be part of Team USA  in World Schools Debate. Our team has won several sweepstakes awards including a Debate Schools of Honor award from the National Speech and Debate Association and two Diocesan Cumulative Sweepstakes awards.  I currently serve as a member of the Pennsylvania High School Speech League District 8 Tournament Committee and have promoted speech and debate in several public appearances including a 2017 appearance on the Dare to Care radio program out of Marion, Illinois. I also had the privilege to serve on the Pennsylvania High School Speech League 2016 State Tournament Committee.   I served as the PA Mideast Regional Coordinator for the National Right to Life Oratory Contest, from 1993-2014  through the support of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, Bethlehem/Easton Chapter of which I have been president since 2004.

Judges Training Video:
Here’s the link for the Judges Training video from 10/28/2020.  It’s about 1 hour and 45 minutes and also 1.2GB.  It can be view in a web browser or downloaded and view outside of the browser.  The first 2 minutes are mostly a blank screen so let anyone watching know to skip to the 2:00 minute mark.

Mark your calendars! National Speech and Debate Education Day is March 4, 2022.

2021-2 award winners/placers to date:

William Tennent HS: Diocesan Qualifiers: Student Congress: Rey Gabriel and Original Oratory: Kangxin Ruan-Li

Phillipsburg HS ADFL Tournament: Oral Interpretation: 1st Place: Emily Olsen

Hunterdon Central Winter Invitational: Diocesan Qualifier: Oral Interpretation: Catherine Mahoney

Notre Dame HS ADFL Tournament: Oral Interpretation: 1st Place: Emily Olsen

NSDA Degrees Earned:

Excellence: Emily Olsen

Honor: Rey Gabriel

Merit: Kangxin Ruan-Li

Congratulations to Emily Olsen who won first place in Oral Interpretation in the Allentown Diocesan Forensics League National Qualifier at the Fowler Center of Northampton Community College. Also Notre Dame won the Through The Years Cumulative Sweepstakes Award.

Student Officers

Emily Olsen, President
Catherine Mahoney, Vice-President

Parent Board

Mrs. Angela Giordano, Chairperson

Mrs. Melanie Olsen

2005 National Champion

Fr. Stephan Isaac’s Career Highlights

  • 2005 National Right to Life Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest National Winner (see Fr. Stephan’s Championship Speech in Resources section)
  • NSDA Degree of Outstanding Distinction
  • Four-time NCFL National Qualifier: 2003: Original Oratory; 2004: Student Congress Semifinalist; 2005: Student Congress Semifinalist; 2006: Student Congress Finalist
  • Two-time PHSSL State Award winner: 2004: Student Congress, 3rd Place;  2006: Student Congress 3rd Place

Read Testimony

2014 National Champion

Abby Marone’s Career Highlights

  • 2014 NSDA Congressional Debate House National Champion
  • Member of 2014-2015 Team USA World Schools Debate
  • Earned NSDA Degree of Premier Distinction
  • Nine total National Tournament appearances (all in Congressional Debate/Student Congress):
    2012: NCFL, Semifinalist
    2013: Tournament of Champions, Semifinalist; NCFL, Semifinalist; NSDA, Semifinalist
    2013: PHSSL State Champion Student Congress Senate
    2014: Tournament of Champions, 5th place; NCFL, 4th place; NSDA, 1st place
    2015: Tournament of Champions, 5th place;  NSDA, 4th place

Read Testimony

2021-2022 Tournament Schedule

(tournaments marked individual participation are national events that the team does not attend, but students can. Also note that tournament dates and locations may be subject to change. Also, due to COVID, some of these tournaments may end up being virtual/online.)

10/1-3: Yale Tournament – individual participation
10/15-17: New York City Invitational at Bronx Science – individual participation
10/30: Phillipsburg Invitational
11/5-6: William Tennent joint tournament (Hybrid)*

11/13 Dallastown Wildcat Invitational
11/19-21: St. Joseph’s University Villiger Virtual Tournament (NSDA Campus) – individual participation
12/3-12/5: George Mason – individual participation
12/3-12/5: Princeton University
12/18: ADFL at Phillipsburg HS Live*
1/8: ADFL at Hunterdon Central Live*

1/22 Blue, Maroon, and White NIETOC Qualifier Virtual Tournament Hosted by Shikellamy HS
1/29: Ridge HS
2/4-2/5: Pennsbury HS
2/12: ADFL at Notre Dame Live
2/26: PHSSL District 8 State Qualifier at Pocono Mountain West HS(Virtual)*

2/27: NSDA Valley Forge District Congress National Qualifier*

3/5: ADFL National Qualifier at Northampton Community College*

3/12-13: NSDA Valley Forge District Speech/Debate National Qualifier*
3/19-20: PHSSL State Tournament Virtual at Bloomsburg University*
TBA: Holy Redeemer HS

4/2: NSDA Valley Forge District Big Questions National Qualifier*
April 23-25: Tournament Of Champions at University of Kentucky – speech and debate invitational individual participation
4/23: Southern Lehigh HS

April TBA: Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Video Oratory Contest Deadline (see Mr. Rizzo for details)

TBA: Commonwealth Championships

5/12-5/15: National Individual Events Tournament Of Champions, Houston,TX – speech invitational individual participation
5/27-30: NCFL Grand Nationals in Washington DC
6/12-17: NSDA Nationals in Louisville, KY
June 24-25: National Finals Pro-Life Oratory Contest at the National Right to Life Convention in Atlanta, Ga

ADFL = Allentown Diocesan Forensics League, NCFL = National Catholic Forensic League, NSDA = National Speech & Debate Assn.,

PHSSL = PA High School Speech League, SCFL = Scranton Catholic Forensics League

Want to read more about Speech and Debate? Check out Rostrum Magazine from the National Speech and Debate Association.