Forensics teams promote family environment

Mackenzie Mathews

With eight American Forensic Association National championships, ten World Championships and 24 consecutive State Championships, WKU’s Forensics team has made it to national distinction and beyond, but there is more to this team than its competitive achievements.

“It’s a lovely family to have, especially coming from so far away,” Chicago junior Emma Collins said.

It is easy to gain that sense of family when the team spends so much time together, she said.

The team travels across the nation, and sometimes internationally, for tournaments almost every weekend from September to April. They break into groups so every member does not have to travel every weekend.

That is not to mention daily practice sessions, when members spend hours in the Forensics office researching, writing and reciting speeches. Then, there are assignments outside of sessions.

“It’s a huge time commitment, but a lot of the skills forensics encourages are qualities that translate well to school,” Des Moines, Iowa, freshman Carolyn Evans said. “Our coaches put a tremendous amount of emphasis on keeping up with school work.”

Much of the team’s success has been credited to members’ efforts and the time they are willing to put into work. Inspiration derives from members pushing one other to be better and a legacy left by still supportive alumni, Evans said.

Tradition and pride are significant aspects of maintaining the team’s success.

As WKU’s oldest student organization, with the first team in 1914, the Forensics team has perfected techniques of speech tournaments. The last 20 years have seen a number of successful members. Many alumni stay in touch in order to help the team or sign on as coaches.

“No one likes to leave the family,” Collins said. “There’s as much peer pressure to work hard and be successful as there is self-motivation.”

Tournaments consist of 11 events divided into three categories: interpretive, public address and limited prep. There are two preliminary rounds, in which a judge ranks contestants from one to six. The top numbers move on to out rounds, then final rounds, where the winners are placed.

Despite popular thought, the forensics team does not delve into much “CSI” work, as they deal with the art of public speaking and debate.

“The forensics team is a great place to get to explore a lot of your own interests and learn how to communicate effectively,” Collins said.

The origin of the word “forensics” can mean anything from “CSI” to public speaking, she said.

Whether as police forensics or speech forensics, their reputation has made it across campus and across the nation. Most of the members came to WKU to join the team, hearing of the school through high school debate clubs.

The difference between WKU and other schools’ debate teams appears to be the passion. The long hours of practice sessions and road trips builds an appreciation for the activity.

“I think it comes down to our team spirit,” Evans said. “We’re always there to support one another, always there to push one another to work harder and always there to help one another grow.”