SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A group of City College of San Francisco students are leaving for a trip to Southern California tournament. There won’t be a lack of conversation and that point is not debatable.

Here’s the truth about troubled, beleaguered, underappreciated CCSF: the speech and debate team is among the top in the country.

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“I think our students have the drive to best at what they do,” assistant debate coach Robert Hawkins told KPIX 5.

They are not only the top community college debaters, they are among of the best in the United States after successfully competing against several prestigious debate programs.

City College of San Francisco debate team. (CBS)

City College of San Francisco debate team. (Nate Steele)

Jeff Hamilton of the school said, “The fact that this debate team can rise to the level of a Stanford, or a Harvard, or a Cal, is remarkable.”

City College will be going to the nationals in April against such teams, after coming in first in the Western Region.

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Their specialty is oral interpretation. And when competing against schools with budgets that can be up to $1 million, they win.

“We are first-generation immigrants. Our parents don’t speak English. So it’s hard sometimes for people to pay attention to us. This is an outlet for us to let our voice be heard,” said debater Diana Norton.

Practice comes when it can, mixed in with school work and jobs. It happens anywhere it can, on the bus, in the shower, outside towards a wall imagining an audience.

“They don’t have the opportunity to have their identities affirmed like other students do that come from more privileged backgrounds. So this is activity is an opportunity for them to stand up and say this is what I do. This is where I’m from,” Hawkins said.

Winning the nationals would make for a Hollywood ending. But even if they don’t, theirs is a story of inspiration, showing where champions can come from, if you find your voice.

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The CCSF debate team had to fundraise to get the chance to go back to the finals in April. Most other teams had their trips paid for by their schools.