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Park High School's Zamora talking the talk as he heads to speech competition

Nicholas Zamora just talked his way into a chance to represent Park High School in state competition.

The Park High School senior recently qualified for the state finals in the National Speech and Debate Association — and he got there with coaching from his big sister Kimberly.

Nicholas Zamora placed second in the 3AA Section Finals on March 18. His showing in the Creative Expression category earned him a spot at the MSHSL State Tournament on Friday, April 11 at Blaine High School.

It’s his first trip to the finals.

“I’m very proud of myself and the work I’ve accomplished,” Nicholas Zamora said. “It’s a hard struggle to get there.”

He’s glad he listened to his sister, a 2007 Park graduate. Kimberly, who also works as assistant to speech team coach and English teacher Nicole Vaith, made it to the finals twice when she attended Park.

Nicholas Zamora worked plenty hard to further his own cause, however. Competitors in the Creative Expression category are required to write their own material. He penned “A Royal Mess,” about the clash of cultures that ensues when a southern dude named Jimmy Dean marries Pippa Middleton, sister of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Kimberly Zamora, who also works as a graphic designer for WCCO-TV, saw the potential in her brother’s speech. On paper, his stuff was funny, she said.  But he needed help with articulation, diction and volume.

“He has some issues with performance,” she said. “If you don’t have the fundamental elements of speech together, you’re not going to go anywhere, no matter how good your writing is.”

She said it took some convincing to get her brother to agree to let her coach him.

“I said, ‘I feel like I could get you to state if you work hard.’ And I’m amazed that it turned out.”

Punching a ticket to the state finals in Section 3AA is especially difficult, she said.

“For one, we have a really, really tough section — Apple Valley and Eastview and East Ridge. All those teams, they go to nationals every year. Even though we’re a really good team, it’s really hard for us to go state.”

Nicholas Zamora credits his sister for helping him to improve his delivery and timing when he’s onstage.

“I’ve gotten a lot better about pausing and not hamming things up for laughs,” he said. “My sister always said, ‘Nicholas, you’ll take a laugh over a (perfect) one hundred.’”

Other Park winners at section 3AA included Alexis Violette: 6th place, Creative Expression; Kate Munce, 7th place, Drama; Troy Lowry and Justin Hiemstra: 6th place, Duo; Ben Jemie and Henry Gibney, 6th place, Duo; Feven Ayana, 7th place, Original Oratory; and Haley Wilson, 6th place, Prose.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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