Together, they’re championsRosemount High School students Sara Devitt and Micah Marshall teamed up to bring home a national DECA title.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
A year ago, Sara Devitt and Micah Marshall were rivals on the same team. Then juniors at Rosemount High School, they competed in the same event for the school’s DECA program, and they were both pretty good at it. Devitt finished first at the state competition. Marshall took third.
This year, they figured out they’re pretty good together, too. Working as a team, Devitt and Marshall took first place in their category earlier this month at the national DECA conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Devitt and Marshall competed in the sports and entertainment marketing team decision making category, which is a long way of saying they were given two a role-playing scenario and 30 minutes to come up with a presentation for judges.
This is the part where Devitt and Marshall shined as a team. Once they had the scenario in hand, Devitt, the more organized of the two, started charting out the points their presentation would need to hit while Marshall thought about the bigger picture of the presentation. To the uninformed observer, it might have looked a little bit like daydreaming.
“I take a couple minutes to kind of mellow out and think, ‘What can we do that’s kind out there, but still in the realm of what the judges would accept?’” Marshall said.
When things are going well, the energy builds between the two. They finish each other’s sentences. They start to get antsy.
“You know when we’re having a good role play, because we’re bouncing up and down in our seats,” Devitt said.
Given their results at nationals, they must have been in danger of leaping out of their seats altogether. Devitt and Marshall had to go through two rounds of competition, with two separate role plays. One asked them for a presentation about a loyalty program for a performing arts center. The other focused on a smartphone application that would allow stadiumgoers to order food from their seats.
Students had to build both concepts from the ground up, decipher all of the appropriate terminology, then come up with a presentation that would impress the panel of judges.
The first round narrowed the field from 200 teams to 16.
Both Devitt and Marshall have been in DECA for three years, and advisor Ryan Harrison said they have a good grasp on what it takes to be successful.
“They’re extremely creative,” he said. “They get the big picture. They understand how business terms relate to scenarios and how to apply them to scenarios in order to come up with a great solution.”
Both Devitt and Marshall are athletes -- she swims and he plays football, basketball and lacrosse -- and they are both very competitive. Marshall said Devitt is one of the few people he knows more competitive than he is.
Devitt and Marshall decided early on to take some risks with their role play at the national competition. They strayed from the serious presentations students usually give at high-level competitions. They decided to have fun with things.
Both were thrilled with their presentations when they were done, but for a while they thought the judges might have been less enthusiastic. They didn’t get any ribbons in the preliminary round, and they were the last team announced for both the finals and for the top 10 at the award ceremony.
Even onstage, Devitt figured they were likely to finish third at best. When that place came and went without their name being called, Marshall put his arm around Devitt’s shoulders and was in the process of saying something like, “Win or lose, we had fun” when they were announced as the champions.
“It was a very good weekend,” Devitt said.
It was a good season all around for the RHS DECA program. RHS had nine students in eight events at the national competition. Amelia Volkert finished in the top 10 overall on the event’s written test.
“Anytime you can win a national award, you definitely made your goals,” Harrison said. “This group, from top to bottom … this has probably been the best group of students I’ve ever worked with.”