Forensics Debate Team wins national tournament

Reporter and Reporter

The Forensics Debate Team returned from Kansas City, Missouri, on Sunday from the National Comprehensive Tournament with the championship trophy.

Despite the competitiveness of the 72 schools in attendance, the University won the National Comprehensive Team Championship for the second straight year. But the team has experienced a lot of success in the nationals for years, said Paul Alday, the team’s faculty adviser.

“This year’s national success concludes an outstanding season,” he said. “We have been very competitive and we have placed in the top five at this tournament for the last six straight years.”

The Forensics Team is a competitive speech and interpretive performance team as individual members participate in separate events from informative speaking to poetry to debate. The points that each player earns for their events are combined to make the team’s total for that tournament, Alday said.

“We do between 14 and 18 invitational events starting back in September, during weekends throughout the school year,” he said. “Through these competitions, we have to qualify to make it to the national event.”

The different events and tournaments present challenges to the students and allow them to grow, said sophomore Ashley Hendricks. This is her second year with the team and she was a member of the national champions last year.

“This has helped me to become a better public speaker,” she said. “What I have learned here and improved at can help me in whatever I plan on doing with my life.”

Hendricks does several different events for the team, including public address speaking and persuasive speeches. Students earn personal points for how well they speak, how organized their presentation is and how persuasive their message is, she said.

Those are just a few events that take place at the national tournament. There were over 1,500 separate events there that the 21 members of the team could take part in, Alday said.

Several of these events saw the team members place high. The University placed second in the Nation in Forensics Events, tenth in Debate Events, and first in both Student Congress and Reader’s Theatre.

The events are not always extremely serious, said Hendricks.

“My favorite is called ‘After Dinner Speaking,’ which is humorous speeches,” she said. “I basically point out a social issue or argument and try to address it and solve it by doing something funny.”

This year was more challenging for the team, however, Alday said. The team that won it all last year had a lot of graduating seniors. Eighty percent of this year’s team members were freshmen and sophomores.

“It is going to be a different game for us now,” Alday said.

But the team wasn’t worried about their age or experience, said senior Katie Hodgdon, who participates in interpreting poetry.

“We have a great staff, and the motivation is there,” she said. “With every competition, you learn more about what works and what doesn’t. You learn what other people do. And you mature with each year, which makes an impact on what you do.”

The 72 schools the team took on in this year’s national finals included Michigan, Ohio State University, University of California, Los Angeles and Harvard and Yale. Bringing students from these schools together can lead to friendships and opportunities for some, Hodgdon said.

The team is also confident in its future as the new members grow and learn, Hendricks said.

“A lot of us are planning on staying all through school,” she said. “We will have a very strong team as we advance in the next few years. We can go from a very good team to an awesome team.”

On Monday the team will present their championship trophy to President Mary Ellen Mazey and will showcase national award-winning events via video in Olscamp Hall, according to team’s press release. This free event will feature the national champion Reader’s Theatre, The Lion King, and speeches from state and national finals.