Duo continues PKD legacy at national speech tournament

When Heidelberg students Katie Bauman and McCartney Betz compete in the Pi Kappa Delta National Speech Tournament later this month, they will be continuing a long-standing Heidelberg legacy that has a personal connection to their coach, Dan Higgins, ’93, ’95

This will be the second year Katie and McCartney have scored state championships, bringing the President’s Cup trophy back to Heidelberg following the state tournament last month. The second of back-to-back state wins qualifies the talented duo for the national tournament. They won’t be able to travel to Texas as planned, but will instead compete virtually. Katie, a senior political science major, will perform in Rhetorical Criticism, Interviewing and Persuasive Speaking. McCartney, a junior communication major, will perform in Dramatic Interpretation and After Dinner Speaking.

Katie and McCartney are centennial competitors; 2021 the 100th anniversary of the creation of Heidelberg’s Pi Delta Kappa Chapter. The university has been a continuous member ever since. 

Dan, himself a two-time Speech Team national champion as a ’Berg undergrad, has a personal connection to Pi Kappa Delta, founded nationally in 1911. Dan’s great-uncle, Willis Mathias, who graduated in 1922, was one of the founding members of Pi Kappa Delta.

Willis was the first but certainly not the last Higgins family member to compete under the Pi Kappa Delta umbrella. The Higgins Speech Team legacy includes at least eight family members, including Dan’s late father, Clarence “Clip” Higgins, ’51, himself a national champion. Dan’s brother, David Long-Higgins, ’84, also competed, and Dan had the privilege of coaching nieces Hannah Long-Higgins, ’15, Meredith Higgins, ’15, and Colin Higgins, ’17.

While they may not be named Higgins, Katie and McCartney have earned the same level of pride and respect of their coach for enduring two stressful competition seasons during a pandemic. They’ve missed out on the bonding experiences of van rides to and from tournaments, team dinners together and practicing in hotel lobbies. Those experiences are just as valuable, if not more so, than the actual competitions, Dan says.

On March 18-22, they’ll take their months and months of practice to the Pi Kappa Delta national tournament, being held virtually for the first time ever. We wish them the best!

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