Cardinal Mooney's speech and debate team is embracing its ongoing success and diversity. 

Being one of the most diverse teams in the Valley, they've recently excelled in their competitions as a club. 21 News caught up with the speech and debate team on why they're proud to be a part of this outstanding group. 

"We want different voices and we feel it's been important to the success of this high school," said Vince Taddei, Director of Forensics at Cardinal Mooney. "We don't limit anybody's voice. As long as we're challenging them to think creatively then everybody's natural intelligence will come out."

Out of the 20 students on this year's team, about half of them are African American. This makes them one of the most diverse speech and debate teams in the Mahoning Valley.

"Looking at some of our inner city schools, they might push things like football or basketball but the more academic type of extracurriculars aren't always pushed," explained Jaietta Jackson, Speech Coach at Cardinal Mooney. "So, it's nice Mooney embraces all kinds and all students."

"We love walking into these buildings and these tournaments with the type of team that we have," Taddei explained. "There's a lot of unity in this and we've been able to find that unified voice just in the amount of different amount of people we have from all walks of life."

"I played football before and that was my main thing," explained DJ Patterson, Senior at Cardinal Mooney. "But then I wanted to try speech out so I tried it out and I do not regret it at all." Patterson just started speech and debate as a senior and describes it as one of his best opportunities at Cardinal Mooney.

Jackson said the students in speech and debate are also a part of the theater program, football team, and Quiz Bowl.

The team believes diversity sets them apart from the rest and only benefits them during competition.

"When we walk out every Saturday morning [at a competition], we don't usually see people like us," explained Elijah Williams, Senior at Cardinal Mooney. "So once we have a team full of the different backgrounds and colors, we're able to strive. We're able to show we can do this too."

Williams said he has gained public speaking skills and grown his confidence while being in the program.

"It is so important," Patterson added. "It is one of the most important things. You look at this team and we all look at each other as equals. We all love each other. We all get along. It's quite amazing."

"It truly is pretty amazing being a part of this," explained Christopher Wynn, Senior at Cardinal Mooney. "The team here supports you in everything you do. I joined the team my freshman year and I started noticing an improvement in myself. I managed to qualify for state my junior and senior year in the program."

The team is made up of students with bright futures. Some are attending college, pursuing the trades and others are even looking to start their own business after graduation. They say they owe a lot of their success to Cardinal Mooney's speech and debate team.

"To have an overall impact on the school and to show everyone that no matter who what or what you identify as you can be in the speech and debate team," explained Jibril Jackson, Junior at Cardinal Mooney. "I love this team for the family aspect. I've gained a lot of friends and knowledge from doing this. I've learned patience and the value of staying quiet. We are making an impact at Cardinal Mooney but this team can also show me a new legacy."

"You look at the other schools around the Valley," explained Wynn. "You see Cardinal Mooney has a very diverse group of people. It seems like a family and that's what I love about Mooney, it's like a family."

The students' 21 News spoke with hope to be role models to a younger generation to pursue speech and debate.

Coach Taddei told 21 News that 10 of the students have advanced to the state competition and some are preparing for the national qualifying tournament is this weekend at Austintown. Cardinal Mooney High School has sent a student representative to nationals 58 times and counting.