Forensics team wins largest tournament of fall semester

The forensics team plans to compete keeping President Timothy Caboni’s strategic plan in mind. Photo courtesy of Carrie Jeanette at Sur La Lune Photography

Adrianna Waters

WKU’s forensics team has kicked off a successful season, placing in the top three in almost every tournament and winning the largest tournament of the fall semester.

Students on the forensics team, a competitive speech and debate team, participate in a variety of different events that utilize public speaking and dramatic performances.

According to Ganer Newman, the director of forensics at WKU, the WKU team has attended 11 tournaments this semester, traveling nearly every weekend. The team often split up to compete at different universities, with smaller tournaments dedicated to qualifying students for the national tournament in April, Newman said.

In November, WKU attended the 70th Annual L.E. Norton Memorial Tournament, the largest tournament they competed in this semester. WKU was the tournament sweepstakes champion, and the top two places for the individual event pentathlon were awarded to WKU students Lily Nellans and Andrea Ambam.

According to Newman, students spent the summer researching possible topics for competition. When students arrive on campus, they participate in a “preseason boot camp” to begin working on their performances, Newman said.

Throughout the season, speeches and performances are revised as laws change, trends shift, and new topics emerge. According to Newman, more than 130 presentations for 11 different events are researched and composed.

Students also work to improve their delivery and adjust performances after receiving feedback from judges at tournaments.

Newman, who has been the director of forensics for four years, works with the other coaching staff to “develop compelling arguments and performances.” Newman also recruits top speakers from around the country and monitors the academic progress of current members.

WKU’s team works toward winning the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament, the National Forensics Association Individual Events Team Championship and the National Forensics Association Debate Team Championship.

WKU is the only forensics team to have won all three tournaments in the same year and has done so nine times since 2003. Last season, WKU won the National Forensics Association tournaments, but took second place at the American Forensics Association tournament by only five points.

“We are working hard to put us in the best position possible to win them all again this season,” Newman said.

Beyond winning tournaments, the forensics team has another goal as well, Newman said.

“We want to empower our students through the activity to improve their communities,” Newman said.

The benefits of participating in forensics are plentiful, Newman said. It helps students with their writing skills and makes them more eager to participate in class discussions.

Emily Falica, a sophomore from Scottsville, said being a member of the forensics team has helped her with time management skills and public speaking makes being involved in class settings easier.

Falica competes in Lincoln Douglas Debate, extemporaneous speaking and impromptu speaking competition. Being an English major with a concentration in professional writing, she said the “biggest benefit” of forensics for her is developing her research skills.

“My events have fine-tuned my ability to outline what I need for a project or paper and find the resources fast and efficiently,” Falica said.

Forensics skills also help members outside of the classroom by making them more likely to be hired or serve in a leadership position because of their communication skills. The top attribute Fortune500 companies look for in job candidates is the ability to communicate, Newman said.

Falica said these communication skills have already helped her in the past few years when she is “talking to senators about important issues, [having] discussions on campus with peers, and being able to communicate with managers and bosses.”

Newman said WKU creates “some of the best communicators in the country,” and forensics encourages students to find the truth through communication.

“Forensics means the search for the truth,” Newman said. “The activity encourages students to sort through all the noise and locate the truth and to find compelling ways of defending the truth.”

The WKU team will compete in their last tournament of the semester on Dec. 9th. Eight students will travel to Ohio State University while the rest of the team hosts the Hilltopper Classic Speech and Debate tournament for high school students in Bowling Green.

Reporter Adrianna Waters can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].