Forensics performs for tournament prep

Roseville, Minnesota senior Lataya Williams reads and re-enacts a collection of poetry by multiple authors explor- ing “Missing White Woman Syndrome” during the WKU forensics team’s showcase Saturday at Ransdell Hall. WKU Forensics will head to Gainesville, Fla., to defend its national title. SHABAN ATHUMAN/HERALD

Shantel-Ann Pettway


WKU Forensics had its end-of-the-semester showcase Saturday in Ransdell Hall in preparation for a national forensics tournament.

The forensics team will head down to Gainesville, Florida April 1-4 to compete in the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament second of three national tournaments, according to Ganer Newman, the director of WKU Forensics.

The team’s showcase on Saturday served as another form of practice and a way for the team to show the WKU community the work it has been putting in for the entire season.

“Tonight we saw our students give their all and be at their absolute best before the nationals,” Newman said.

The night opened with two hosts: freshman Andrea Ambam of Peculiar, Missouri, and sophomore Lyric Davis of Blue Springs, Missouri. They reminded the crowd to “turn off your phones, laptops, beepers — if you forgot to switch centuries — and babies.”

The show consisted of 10 students presenting informative speeches, dramatic interpretations, impromptu speeches, a Lincoln-Douglas debate, poetry interpretations, after-dinner speeches and more.

Much of the crowd consisted of forensics students who were supporting their teammates.

Fort Lauderdale junior Michael Rizzo has been on the team for two years and was excited to see his teammates’ work.

“I’m pumped and jacked to go to nationals,” Rizzo said. “I know that we’re going to do well. We have a great shot at this.”

Elizabethtown senior Jasmine Jones is also part of the forensics team. Jones said all the presentations were awesome.

“Almost all of these performances I had seen for the first time, and I was completely blown away,” she said.

Jones had only seen Lewisville, Texas, senior Haddy Badjie’s persuasive speech once before and said she was touched by the piece.

Badjie performed on the topic of black girls receiving less representation and mentoring than black boys in today’s society and in the past.

“Seeing how black girls are disproportionately discouraged from being in the school system inspired me to do this,” Badjie said.

Badjie said the speech was not difficult to prepare because she felt invested in the piece.

“It’s been pretty easy practicing with it throughout the year because it’s something I’m pretty happy about,” Badjie said.

Badjie’s performance and connection to the subject prompted her to create the hashtag #WeCantWait to promote the mentoring of young girls and preserve the names of those who have been forgotten in the system.

“I’ve mentored young girls who’ve been through tough issues, and I have young cousins who don’t have empowerment and positivity, so this is everything to me,” Badjie said.

WKU Forensics is the most rewarded organization on this campus, according to Newman.

The forensics team has been the only forensics team to win national titles from the American Forensic Association, the National Forensic Association, the NFA debate and the International Forensic Association all in the same year, Newman said.

Newman is hopeful that the team will bring back another title.

“This is something students work tirelessly on and keep on getting better through the year, so I hope to bring back another title to the Hill,” Newman said.

Many of the students are seniors, so this year’s national competition is an emotional point for everyone involved with WKU Forensics, according to Newman.

“It’s bittersweet to see some of these students go, but I know how much they’ve put into this,” Newman said.

This will be Badjie’s last national competition. The showcase only made it more real for her.

“This is something so dear to me, and this is my last competition,” Badjie said. “I know I’m going to be an emotional wreck, but I’m ready.”