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Become a Judge!

Debate and Speech

Competitive speech and debate wouldn’t be possible without community support. You can help by joining us on tournament days as a judge.

At any given tournament, we need anywhere from 35 to 100 judges.

Check out free judging resources from speechanddebate.org.

“But I’m not qualified.”

Do you appreciate good presentation or performance?
Are you interested in current events?
Do you read a lot? Write a lot?
Does critical thinking excite you?
Are you an educator at heart?
Do you have two thumbs and time to kill on a Saturday?

You’re qualified!

Do you know who else judges?

  • Coaches
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Bus drivers
  • Older siblings
  • Retirees
  • Alumni
  • Professional performers
  • Lawyers and politicians
  • College students
  • Friends and family who have been sucked in by coaches and competitors

“But I don’t know how to do it.”

A coach or moderator would be glad to train you. It’s even been done via email!

At the beginning of each tournament, all judges participate in a briefing so you don’t forget the important parts. Also, all first-time judges are paired with experienced judges to shadow for a round or two.

Start by reading up on the events:

“I really don’t have the time.”

Tournaments occur on Saturdays, but not every Saturday. And we don’t ask you to be at every tournament, only the ones you can commit to. Check out this season’s calendar.

Yes, tournaments tend to be long days. We ask you to commit from 8:30 a.m. to around 5:30 or 6:30 p.m. Some of the more prestigious tournaments go longer.

But you spend your time:

  • Encouraging high schoolers to think critically and put themselves out there.
  • Meeting like-minded adults.
  • Entertained by public presentation of literature, poetry, and creative writing.
  • Challenged by in-depth research and thought of tough subjects.

While it’s a long day, there is often time in between rounds to chat with other judges, read, knit, and do work.

“Some of the tournaments are really far away from me.”

Most teams have space for you to hitch a ride on their bus to the tournament.

If that doesn’t float your boat, there might be a carpool from your area. Each tournament there are judges coming from the areas around Bangor/Orono, Skowhegan, Augusta/Waterville, Lewiston/Auburn, and Brunswick/Portland. Reach out to your hiring coach to find a carpool.

“What’s really in it for me?”

Free food. All judges receive complimentary continental breakfast, coffee and water, and lunch.

Most hiring schools even provide you with a stipend (usually around $40) for your day’s commitment. Of course we love volunteers, though.

“This looks kind of interesting…”

Contact one of the MFA’s officers or your local team’s coach. We’ll make sure someone hires you.