Belleville West senior Sam Geiger loved to participate with his high school’s speech team.
So he had bittersweet feelings as he got ready to start his last performance June 17.
Fortunately, he’ll always know he saved his best for last, winning the national championship in expository speaking at the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament in Salt Lake City.
“I’m going to miss it,” Geiger said, noting that the University of Chicago, where he will attend in the fall, doesn’t have a speech team. “But I know I went out doing the best that I can do. And I have some great memories to take with me.”
Geiger said he realized a national championship — the third in Belleville West speech history — was a possibility when he made it to finals at the tournament. A total of six speakers made their presentation one after another. When they were done, they had to wait in suspense for about 10 hours before final results were announced.
“I thought I had a chance,” Geiger said. They announced the results in reverse order, sixth place first and then fifth... “When they announced the name of the second-place person and it wasn’t me I thought to myself: ‘wait a minute...’”
Jessica Petrie won a national championship for Belleville West in the category of impromptu speaking in 2009. Eli Bernstein won in the category of extemporaneous commentary in 2011.
Q: Did you ever dream that you had a chance to win a national championship?
A: “My junior year I went to state, and it was the first time I was competitive on that level. So it was pretty interesting. But I never really thought about the possibility that I could really win (the national championship) until I made it to finals. When I knew I was in the top six, that’s when it started to sink in.”
Q: What do you do when you aren’t busy with school?
A: “I’m really into music. I love to go see bands as often as I can. I really like the Smiths and a band called Deer Hunter.”
Q: Do you have any favorite foods?
A: “I love sushi, really any Japanese food. But I really love sushi.”
Q: Will you miss most high school or your time on the speech team?
A: “I had a great time here. I’m looking forward to the next adventure. But I have a lot of great memories. I’m glad if I had to have a final round, that was it.”
Meet Sam Geiger
- Age: 18
- Parents: Joseph and Tammy Geiger of Belleville
- School: Graduated from Belleville West in June. University of Chicago starting in the fall with a major in public policy
- Hobbies: Collects coins. Geiger said, although he’s not as active as he used to be because he has other responsibilities taking up his time, he still likes to follow the hobby.
- Career Goals: Something in politics. Geiger said he’s not sure if he wants to do something on the public side or if he wants to be a private lobbyist. But he’d like to do something in politics in the Washington D.C. area.
- Honors: Speech National Champion, 2016; law career scholarship from Mathis, Marifian and Richter, Ltd.; editor of High News student newspaper; student director with the drama department; National Honor Society