“Extemper of the Month” is a new series we will be hosting here at The Extemper, not surprisingly, on a monthly basis. Our goal with “Extemper of the Month” will be to feature a different extemper from around the state each month, asking all of the debate-related questions you have have been too scared to ask yourself.
Our first Extemper of the Month is Cy-Fair’s Evan Ortiz. Currently a Junior, Evan has already stacked up an impressive list of achievements, including being a Cap City Round Robin competitor, TFA State semifinalist in Domestic Extemp, and double-semifinalist at the UT tournament. He is currently 12th in the state points race.
Let’s start with the beginning of your extemp career… How did you get involved in extemp?
I at first didn’t want to do extemp, it seemed complicated and daunting. As a result, my coach just signed me up for the first tournament without consent and said good luck. As a wee freshman, NX seemed almost impossible, but I was the only NX’r to final at the first tournament and it truly left me shook. Ever since then, I have never gone to a tournament where I wasn’t doing extemp.
What was your first extemp speech on? How did it go?
My very first extemp speech was over Boko Haram and counter terrorism efforts. It was absolutely awful–I think it was a little over the two minute mark. At some point in the speech I said “I dig it” and chuckled to myself mid round because of it. I still got the one in the room, so I am not complaining.
Who has been your biggest source of inspiration for you as an extemper?
My biggest source of inspiration is Bill Thompson. Over the summer I finally got to meet Bill and he changed my perspective over extemp completely. He taught me extemp just wasn’t something to win trophies from, it was a tool for social action.
Even though it’s not yet over, what thus far has been your proudest achievement in your extemp career?
My proudest moment in my extemp career was definitely my semis FX speech at the Saint Mary Hall’s tournament. I still look back at the speech and undoubtedly know it was one of my best where I felt I really connected to the topic.
As a competitor in this year’s Cap City Round Robin, who do you think should’ve been included in the list of invitees that was absent?
When I saw the original Cap City list, two people automatically popped into my mind: Jun Yong Kim from Seven Lakes and Ashwin Desai from Plano West. Not only are these two people incredible friends to me, but even better competitors.
If you could change anything about extemp, what would you want to see done differently?
If I could change anything about extemp I would change the perception of exclusivity it has. It seems at major tournaments in Texas, the “cream of the crop” if you will, mainly sticks together. This exclusivity mindset is a downfall to the community because it builds a “skills hierarchy” where people without outstanding results are simply ignored. Personally some of my best friends from around the community have been complete strangers that I happened to sit next to in draw–even though they might not have been the best, they were definitely a great friend.
Thanks Evan for being our first extemper of the month!