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1-31-24 — Olathe East Student Finds Voice Through Debate and Forensics
Jan. 31, 2024 ~ Madison Troup, senior at Olathe East High School, is a leader for the Olathe East Debate and Forensics team, a program that sent 17 students to the National Speech and Debate Tournament last year. Troup found community and support through the program, helping her come out of her shell and become a voice to advocate for what is right.
“I was really, really shy my freshman year. With COVID, it was online, and I didn’t really have a lot of friends,” Troup said. “I remember finding speech and debate, and we had in-person practices every week. I had a space where I had a community, and I was able to build and foster relationships there.”
Troup became the first person in school history to qualify for the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions (NIETOC) in Minnesota last year, a competition that brings together the nation’s best and brightest students in speech and debate. She also won a state title in Dramatic Interpretation and was the highest finisher from Olathe in the 2023 National Speech and Debate Tournament, finishing as a semifinalist in poetry spoken word. While there were a lot of nerves on stage in the final round of the 2023 state tournament, Troup realized her competition was there to share a common goal.
“Once it was cut down to six people, I went first, and I was just so nervous,” Troup said. “But the moment I got up there, I took a breath. I looked around and saw people part of my community, and I’m like, ‘You know what? This is just so fun and so beautiful.’ Being able to see that there were other Black women there for me, all ready to listen and hear each other, was just so powerful.”
For Troup’s semifinalist-level poem, she wrote about the treatment and perceptions of Black women in society and how they find ways to create sisterhood. She delivered the poem live several times to the panel of judges.
“It speaks about the importance of finding ourselves and moving beyond the perceptions of us so that we can finally have the ability to understand who we are and embrace it,” Troup said. “There will always be stereotypes, but it’s a question of, ‘How can we find beauty in ourselves and appreciate who we are?’”
Troup credited the coaches and mentors at Olathe East for her success. Olathe East has five coaches in the program — Stacy Goddard, Keith Larkin, Erin Powell, Lauren Carter and Rule 10 coach Kevin Krouse.
“I have a huge appreciation for all the coaches I’ve worked with,” Troup said. “They’re people that I can go to when school is hard, whenever I have issues at home, or when I have questions. They’re doing it out of the kindness of their heart because they care and want to see our program succeed.”
In school, Troup is the Student Council president for the class of 2024. She is also in the Civic Leadership Academy and the co-founder of the Feminist Club at Olathe East. Outside of school, she volunteers in different buildings and currently has an internship for the City of Olathe attorney and prosecutor’s office. Troup wants to use her powerful voice someday in the courtroom as a lawyer.
“My dream profession is to be a criminal defense attorney, and I just hope I can change things to make the world a better place,” Troup said. “Based on the program and experiences I’ve had at Olathe East, I think I have enough materials I need to be able to make it happen.”
Troup plans to continue with debate at the college level. She has multiple scholarships offers for debate from schools including the University of Kansas, Wake Forest University and the University of Kentucky. However, she is keeping her options open until the right fit comes along. One thing she knows for sure is that she couldn’t have done it without the support of her team.
“All these people and all our coaches are just so important in shaping changemakers,” Troup said. “I just don’t feel like I have to contain myself or monitor myself anymore, because I know what I’m talking about. I’m educated because of debate.”
After qualifying for the NIETOC again this year along with another state and national tournament appearance, Troup can make a name for herself again.