Coloff captures individual All State

By: Allie Taiber

Senior Sydney Coloff will be performing two poetry selections in the Iowa High School Speech Association’s Individual All-State speech festival on Monday, April 4 at 10 a.m.

“It’s a really big honor. I still don’t believe it. If you make it into All State as an individual, then you know that it’s all you. You know that you’re the reason you got in and that you worked really hard to get there,” Coloff said.

Individual All-State speech consists of those who received two out of three “I” ratings and a nomination from two out of their three judges from the previous state speech contest.

Speech coach Alex O’Connel said to achieve a spot in All-State speech, “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication from the get go, and then being on point when you perform. One bad performance can really hinder your chances for All State, but really just letting loose and giving it your all.”

But for Sydney, letting go wasn’t so easy.

“I was really scared of doing individual because it’s all you,” Coloff said. “There’s no one else to help you out. I almost quit near the beginning. I was just so scared. I couldn’t even perform in front of Mr. O at first.”

She’s been in speech since her freshman year, but not until this year was she able to compete at the individual level with the confidence and determination that it takes. “I always wanted to try individual throughout my high school career, but I guess I was always just scared. Mr. O always encouraged me to keep going,” Sydney said. Her only goal going at the beginning of the season was “to perform at Districts without crying.”

But through the experience, students learn about the simple facts of being able to develop their emotions, project their voices and convey their emotions.

Even just standing in front of an audience and giving a speech can be terrifying. “You have to be really confident in yourself to be able to stand up there and basically yell at the judges at times. You have to be confident in what you’re saying. You have believe that people want to hear what you’re saying,” Coloff said.

Both of Coloff’s poems are about rape. They share a message that she hopes to get across to other people. They tell about how it feels, its effects and how it is often wrongfully ignored by the mass media as a pressing issue — that it’s just a part of life in America.

“I want to talk about it. I want to start a conversation about it. It’s such a huge problem in the U.S. I really want people to know those things and to be able to make that connection with the audience,” Coloff said.

She said she believes the power of words has the ability to change the world, and when one is able to convey them into a passionate message and let go of her self consciousness, great things will happen. “You should be able to connect with your pieces on a personal level. If you chose a piece you don’t like or don’t connect with, you’re not going to do well,” she said.

As he watched Coloff’s confidence and passion grow, coach O’Connel shared his pride: “Sydney was someone who was pretty nervous to do it. She was very unsure, and we worked through it at practice to break that and bring her out of her comfort zone. She ended up making All State. It’s an honor for me to see the kids grow from back in November to today and how they can influence an audience,” he said.

When Coloff steps onto the stage next Monday, she said she hopes to simply enjoy her last performance.

Cedar Falls speech will be hosting an end of season awards ceremony in addition to a few performances from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the auditorium to celebrate their successful season. All are welcome.

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