Team Standards & Policies


Ethics & Behavior

Students involved in the MSJHS Speech and Debate Team are to uphold the highest ethical standards, both in the classroom and in competition. Unethical behavior by one person often reflects upon the entire group. A good reputation is difficult to earn and easy to lose. Good character is the most important thing we teach.  We must be respectful, non-disruptive, non-defiant, and kind to all involved in our activity: coaches, students, other schools, judges, drivers, chaperones, etc. Use appropriate language. Obey & respect the spirit of all rules as a part of team functionality. Remain positive with your words, your tone of voice, and your body language. Both attitude and behavior should reflect good character.  Members of the MSJHS Speech and Debate Team should conduct themselves in a professional, mature manner at all times. Any problems that arise should be taken directly to the coach.

Pursuit of Excellence

Hard work and self-discipline are essential to success.  Talent is no substitute for dedication to a task. Start by being prepared every week for and at tournaments with scripts, proper attire, etc. The only way to reach your potential is to continually strive to do your best.  You will never be asked to give more than your best but anything short of that will be challenged.

Team Unity

Unity is an essential component of the MSJHS Speech and Debate Team. In order to function as a team, we must all accept and work with other members. Please respect the property of the coach and other members of the team, such as binders, laptops, supplies, research, etc. Arrogance and ingratitude will not be tolerated. Remember to thank the coaches, teachers, and parents who give of their own time and resources for the program. Remember to thank squad members who go above and beyond what is asked of them.  Positive and constructive communication is essential. Individuals should restrain from bad-mouthing their fellow team members, especially to members of other programs. Upperclassmen should be willing to share their expertise and experience with the younger squad members.

Good Sportsmanship

Winning is fun and your coach and teammates recognize this. However, students should constantly learn from mistakes. MSJHS Speech and Debate Team members will accept judge criticism graciously, always looking on it as a chance to improve. Good sportsmanship will be demonstrated at all times, both in the competition room and out, as well as online.



  1. Mission San Jose High School rules apply at all times.  Violation of any policies will be handled by the coach and/or academic advisor, and then appropriate school district officials as warranted.  Serious policy violations may result in immediate suspension or removal from the team in addition to normal disciplinary procedures.
  2. Tobacco, alcohol, or non-prescription drug use will not be permitted.  Violation of this rule will result in immediate involvement of school district personnel, and will result in suspension from the team.  The coaching staff should be apprised of any prescription drug use occurring during the tournaments.
  3. Respectful discourse between coaches, parents, and team members will be maintained at all times.  
    1. All persons involved with the team will refrain from profanity, vulgarities, and offensive language or humor.  
    2. Bullying, harassment, and/or hazing of students will not be tolerated. This includes ad hominem attacks and belittling or outright dismissing other points of view.
    3. This applies both in-school and at team events, as well as on social media outlets and other activities outside the team.
  4. Cheating and dishonesty with coaches create serious breaches of trust and will not be tolerated. Students found cheating in rounds or to be dishonest with their coaches will be suspended from competition. Habitual offenders may be removed from the team.



  1. Regular labs for each event will be scheduled on a weekly basis. Students are expected to attend at least 75% of the regular weekly labs per month for their event. Students that do not meet the attendance requirement will be deemed inactive and therefore ineligible for competition until they resume regular attendance by attending three consecutive labs.
  2. If students are absent from school or have any form of conflict in their schedules, they are to notify their event captain at least one day in advance. Reasons for missing meetings will be evaluated on a case by case basis by their event captain & coach.
  3. Occasionally, labs may be canceled due to tournament schedules or other events. At the coach’s discretion a make-up lab may be scheduled. Failing to attend a make-up lab session does not count as a missed lab for the purposes of the above eligibility requirements.



  1. All prep materials (cards, blocks, etc.) must be contributed to the team repository (“dropbox”). 
    1. Posting to the wiki does not constitute contribution to dropbox.
  2. Students are expected to complete their prep and other assignments as required by their coach. 
    1. “Completion” is defined as meeting a reasonable minimum standard of quality of work produced, which will be decided at the coach’s discretion.
  3. Students who fail to contribute files or do not complete their assignments by the assigned deadline(s) will be removed from the dropbox and denied access to any team prep until all missed and current prep assignments and materials are completed and submitted to their coach.
    1. Students missing deadlines or failing to contribute prep will be given 24 hours to remedy the above by sending those materials/assignments to their coach. If the prep has still not been completed and/or contributed 24 hours after the deadline, students will be restricted from tournament registration until they have submitted the missing work.
    2. Repeated offenses will result in suspension or removal from the team.
  4. Coaches may prepare team cases, or designate student-prepared cases as team cases, for use in labs and at tournaments.
    1. For topics where the coach has prepared a team case, students are expected to prioritize working on any such team case over their individual cases. 
    2. If a team case has been designated, students are expected to use the team case(s) at tournaments unless otherwise directed by their coach.
    3. Students are encouraged to discuss their cases with their coach and/or captain(s) in advance of any tournaments. Students who do not cannot expect to receive coaching on their cases during tournaments



  1. Students are expected to make every effort to resolve conflicts between themselves. Conflicts between students that cannot resolve between themselves should be addressed to their event coach.
  2. All coaching-related issues should be addressed with the Head Coach. 
  3. General Rule 3A notwithstanding, coaches are expected to give reasonable consideration to all points of view, but in all cases the coach’s decision shall be final.



While the majority of the work lies on the students, the fact is that this team can’t run without parent involvement.  We typically ask parents to help with transportation to and from tournaments, as well as judging at those tournaments. This commitment is usually no more than one weekend a month, and really helps show your students that you’re invested in the activities they care about.

In order to keep costs low, tournaments rely on parents to help as judges. Don’t worry if you’ve never judged before—it’s generally no more difficult than watching a play or public address, and you’ll be given instructions before each tournament (also free food). If you have any concerns, feel free to consult the Judges’ Handbook (available at or contact the coach.

 Judging Requirements

  1. Students are required to sign up with a parent or other adult to judge at each local or online tournament. These judges will be assigned to judge at least a half day.
    1. For most tournaments, any person who is at least 18 years of age and who has graduated from high school is eligible to judge.
    2. Students who consistently do not sign up with a judge will not be entered at tournaments. This is not fair to your teammates or to other schools.
    3. “Local” tournaments are defined as any tournament within 20 miles of the school.
  2. Judging assignments will be announced via email the Monday (whenever possible) before the tournament.
    1. Assignments issued by Monday will be assumed to be accepted unless the coach is notified by the following Wednesday. 
  3. Judges may leave the tournament between rounds. However, make sure you are on site in the Judges’ Room at least half an hour before each round is scheduled to start, and do not leave until all assignments for that round have been made.
    1. Judges who miss their assignment will be expected to reimburse the team for any costs incurred because of those missed rounds.
    2. If you are not selected to judge during your final round assignment, you may leave early.

Financial Contributions

  1. Parents are expected to reimburse the team for all tournament fees, as well as hotel and travel expenses and any other costs incurred by the team and its coaches which are the direct result of their child’s participation in the team or other actions. 
  2. Each family is asked to donate $350 to help cover team operational costs and materials. Many employers will match this donation. All donations will be posted to the student’s website account, where parents may print a receipt for tax purposes.
    1. Checks should be made payable to “MSJ Speech & Debate” whenever possible.
  3. Team funds cannot be used to hire judges (per district policy). If the team is required to hire a judge, students/parents must coordinate to pay for this independently.

Parent Chaperones

  1. Away tournaments usually require at least one parent chaperone in addition to the coach (1 chaperone each for boys and girls, and additional chaperones if there are more than 16 students going). If your child is going on any away tournaments, please volunteer to come with at least one during the year. It’s an experience you won’t regret.
  2. We are looking for a couple of parents to help out as officially sanctioned chaperones. This involves filling out some paperwork for the school district (available on our team website) and passing a background check. If you are interested, please contact the head coach directly. 
Last updated 13 August 2021