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Siloam Springs, AR

This month’s Alumni Post features Sam Youmans from Siloam Springs, AR. Sam competed with Rising Eagles from 2014-2018 before attending Ouachita Baptist University where he is currently pursuing his B.A. in Music Industry with a Business Administration Minor.

Sam was introduced to Stoa when NITOC came to John Brown University in Siloam Springs in 2013. His mother volunteered to judge and brought two very disinterested children with her (Sam and his sister). Sam’s initial expectations were low until he reluctantly timed impromptu. Much to his surprise, the impromptu speeches blew him away with their delivery. The fact that the competitors could speak for five minutes with no preparation astonished him! Sam’s family joined Stoa the subsequent year.

The first tournament had surprises waiting at every corner. Sam recalls, “My first tournament was in Irving, Texas. I remember getting desperately nervous waiting for the first debate round postings to go up, and then getting desperately lost trying to find my room. Fortunately, my first debate was with another novice. I actually won my first two rounds. But little 15-year-old Sam didn’t realize that winners debate other winners. The rest of the tournament was not so successful.”

Sam’s favorite event was Mars Hill Impromptu. As he explains, “It highlights what we should always be doing: analyzing our world through God’s eyes and using our world to show others Biblical truth.”

On top of speech and debate, Sam also studied piano from middle school through high school. He loved music and band, and, though he loved many subjects he studied, he was ultimately drawn to music. Currently, Sam is in an undergraduate program at Ouachita Baptist University majoring in Music Industry.

Sam could sense that speech and debate would play second fiddle to his love of music. Yet he was deeply affected by his time in Stoa. “Looking back, I’d say that thriving in speech and debate indirectly gave me the personal confidence, self-respect, and motivation that I needed to really take ownership of my faith, beliefs, and educational future.” Though the path from speech and debate to the music profession is not well-trodden, Stoa was no less important in giving him the skill that he uses today through his studies.


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