Forensics team remembers ‘fearless’ teammate

Photo courtesy of Carrie Guggenmos. From left to right: Matt Whitman, Alexis Elliott and Liz Owens Courtney are all former debaters and members of the speech team. Whitman and Courtney graduated from WKU in 2012.

Jacob Parker

Death is a part of life, that much is agreed on. Dealing with death varies across countries and cultures — some focus on the loss, while others choose to celebrate the legacy the person left behind.

Friends and loved ones of Kansas City, Mo. senior Alexis “Alex” Elliott, who was found dead in her home on 14th street across from Thompson Complex North Wing on Oct. 8, aim to celebrate her life by posting their favorite memories with Elliott on Facebook. The moderator of the page “Celebrating Alex’s Life”, will compile posts into a book for Alex’s parents.

“Headstrong. Fearless. Sassy.” All are terms frequently used on the page to describe the girl who always had a glint in her eye, who belted out Mariah Carey songs and who gave her famous glare when someone crossed a line with her.

Katja Jones, a friend from high school, recalled that Elliott hated Jones’ obsession with Christmas year-long and forced her to listen to holiday music in July.

“She hated it until that dreaded Mariah Carey Christmas song came on and next thing I knew she was singing and not just singing — belting,” Jones said in a post on the Facebook page.

Jones said she loved learning about Elliott and what bothered her.

“I had once told her that her presence was my present so any time I saw her… I said ‘Merry Christmas,’” Jones said. “She once again hated it but after the fifth time, she gave in and would eventually say it back!”

Elliott initially hadn’t planned on coming to WKU. After conversations with Jace Lux during a high school debate function, she was convinced to continue with speech and debate in college here under his instruction.

Lux, a WKU Forensics coach, said Elliott won the national competition in Spring 2013 for extemporaneous speaking.

“Ever since she started, she has exemplified the model competitor,” he said. “We don’t have team officers or captains, but if we did she certainly would’ve been it. She already was by default.”

Lux remembers Elliott as an intense, dedicated person who was an unrelenting competitor.

“She loved Taylor Swift and Taylor Swift was in Nashville last month and she asked if she could be excused from a team function to attend,” Lux said. “I always thought that was a wonderful juxtaposition — that her guilty pleasure was a bubblegum pop country singer.”

Another friend from school, Jillian Thaden, posted on the page that she remembers being saved in Elliott’s phone as “THADENOFGONDOR” because her name sounded like an elf from Middle Earth.

“Alex’s no-nonsense attitude somehow always found a perfect combination of direct frankness and hilarity that made everyone love her and secretly want to be her,” Thaden said. “She is, and always will be, loved.”

Kansas City, Mo. graduate student Susan Taylor was friends with Elliott for eight years and her teammate on forensics. Taylor said that Alex was an asset to the entire university.

“She was dedicated to not only her performance inside classrooms, but also representing the university wherever she went,” Taylor said. “She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her. She was a great friend, an extremely talented person, intelligent and very kind.”