Ashland’s own Lilli Morrish, Ashland High School Class of 2020, has earned a spot in the finals of Informative Speaking at the online National Speech and Debate Tournament! Lilli has been instrumental in helping coach Mat Marr rebuild Ashland’s legacy of excellence in the Speech side of Forensics, previously winning OSAA state Speech titles in Informative Speaking her junior year and Original Oratory her sophomore year.
We also congratulate Jo Spurgeon from St. Mary’s who won Lincoln Douglas Debate today. Her Coach Molly Bruins has rebuilt their program from almost scratch and become a valued part of our tight-knit local coach and speech student community. Students and coaches across Southern Oregon all support and cheer each other on, especially on big days for our community like today.
This makes Lilli the first-ever student from Ashland High School to compete in the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) main event finals in the organization’s 95 years of competition. She and Jo are the first Oregonian finalists since the South Oregon Worlds Debate team 5 years ago and the first Oregonian finalists in main events in almost 20 years.
Lilli has also set the Ashland High School record for the most NSDA points in team history. Sienna Scoggin, also Class of 2020, has moved into third on the all-time school NSDA points list.
Lilli was coached all four years by Marr and in the most recent two by Eliza Haas. Both Haas and Marr earned Distinguished Service Citations from NSDA this year for their work building the Speech and Debate community in Oregon into a more inclusive and collaborative activity for all students. This completes a year of national prominence for Ashland’s Speech and Debate program as Marr served as the elected President of the Oregon Speech Coaches League and Haas as the elected President of the National Parliamentary Debate League.
“Lilli and I came to the team at the same time, they were strong in Debate but we both wanted to see the Speech side of our program re-invigorated. Her dedication both to her own excellence and the growth of her peers has been inspirational,” Coach Marr said.
“Lilli Morrish exemplifies what is best about Speech and Debate. She has been empowered by the activity, and she has used that power and voice to go out into the broader community, advocate for change, and recruit and mentor new Speech and Debate students,” Coach Haas said.
“Speech and debate has changed my life and has not only given me an outlet to speak on things I genuinely care about, but has given me some of the best friends and community I could ever ask for. I am beyond grateful to have this opportunity and be a part of this transformative activity,” Morrish said.
If you want to watch Lilli’s speech, “The Yeehaw Agenda,” in finals, her speech will be at 8am PST Saturday 6/20 at: live.speechanddebate.org
Lilli will be joining Grinnell College in Iowa next fall.
We know the entire Ashland community will be rooting for Lilli tomorrow.