The speech team returned yesterday from our tournament in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the University of Pennsylvania with trophies and accolades galore.
Liberty University’s Forensic Speech Team would like to extend a warm thank you to several Lynchburg business for contributions to the Liberty University Speech Team Invitational! Our team members and leadership – and our more than 200 guests –appreciated your support as we hosted our district’s first tournament of the season on our campus Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-30.
Our hospitality tables represented the tastiest pastries and desserts in Lynchburg – and the most beautiful floral arrangements in town. These contributions provided southern hospitality for over two hundred undergraduate forensic speech competitors, coaches, professors and visitors.
It was a pleasure working with the following Lynchburg businesses, and we are proud to feature them as our tournament sponsors, and contributors to our spirit of success this weekend and for tournament weekends to come.
Tuesday, April 24, our forensic speech team, consisting of five students and two coaches, returned from the National Forensics Association National Tournament of Champions in Athens, Ohio. In order to qualify for this tournament, the competitors had to score in the top half of a regional tournament's final round to qualify to take each piece to the NFA. From August to April, five Liberty students qualified a total of 18 pieces to perform before a national audience at the NFA-NTC.
The tournament hosted almost 1,000 students this year, with over 8,000 performances taking place over the course of the tournament. Liberty's student did very well at the tournament in Ohio. As a team, Liberty was eleventh in our division for the number of pieces we brought. Liberty was thirty-ninth among the 75 schools competing. Only the top 24 competitors out of the hundreds in each event qualified to take their events to the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds, meaning they had to score first over five other competitors in at least three out of the four preliminary rounds. While our students did well, scoring in the upper half of their preliminary rounds, there were many, many quality performances, so first place was hard to come by.
The experience to see so many different pieces and schools' styles during the four preliminary rounds and six out rounds will be extremely helpful in teaching the coaches and students how to prepare to succeed next year and in years to come. We have so much potential to score highly at these national competitions in the future.
Tuesday, April 10, our forensic speech team returned from the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament in San Marcos, Texas. This tournament is very difficult to qualify for, requiring that competitors score in the top 10 percent of each event in at least three tournaments to qualify to take each piece to the AFA-NIET. This year, we had four students qualify at total of 17 pieces to perform before a national audience at the AFA-NIET.
The quality of competition at this tournament is phenomenal every year, with several schools having competed with 30+ students for over 35 years consecutively, since the tournament's inception. The tournament hosted almost 600 students this year. With this in mind, the scores that our students received in their preliminary rounds were impressive, and topped many competitors from around the nation. Only the top 24 competitors out of the hundreds in each event qualified to take their events to the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds, meaning they had to score first in almost every preliminary round. While our students did well, scoring in the upper half of many of their preliminary rounds, the competition was very tough. However, students from our community, District VII, which we are a part of and contribute to at every tournament, scored very highly, demonstrating that national finalist placement is within our reach as well. Our district brought home third in the nation in impromptu speaking, fourth in persuasive speaking, sixth in prose interpretation, and second in extemporaneous speaking, beating out hundreds of other competitors from schools across the country.
More than anything, the quality of performances that the students and I were privileged to witness and learn from will better prepare us not only for our last tournament at the National Forensics Association National Tournament in Athens, Ohio, but will also ready us for better competition and higher achievement next year, as we continue to recruit and develop radically talented students to represent Liberty University in the future.
Liberty University’s Forensic Speech Team won in its division at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational in March and came in fourth place overall. Following this success, the team held a showcase of their work Wednesday, March 28, in the Department of Communication Auditorium in DeMoss Hall.
“We’re the top Christian school for how many students we had participating,” Forensics Coach and Graduate Student Assistant Meagan Roper said.
Roper, who has been working with the forensics team since August, introduced the showcase by giving a short history on the team. The forensics team began in the 1970s under Dr. Cecil Kramer, but was inactive for years before being revived in 2009.
“We now have seven active students and this year alone have brought home 166 awards,” Roper said.
According to Roper, the forensics team competes in 20 different tournaments per year over the course of 10 weekends. There are three different branches in which the team members can compete, including platform speech, interpretive speech and limited preparation.
“The platform speeches are all written by us. The interpretation speeches are things we pull from literature,” junior Colin Dowd said.
Dowd has been involved with the forensics team since his freshman year. Dowd and junior Josh Wade, a fellow team member, performed a duo interpretation entitled “What Teachers Make” at the showcase in addition to their solo interpretative work.
In order to put these interpretive pieces together, Dowd said the forensics team pulls from different mediums of literature, including newspaper clippings and books.
“We’ve been doing our duo speech since October. When we first put it together, I would say we probably put 40 hours into it,” Dowd said. “Once you get the actual speech written, you have to tweak it constantly.”
Freshman Whitney Rutherford, whose informative speaking piece called Philanthrocapitalism won first in the nation at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational, said she puts hours of research into perfecting her speeches.
“I’m checking week by week – even day by day – to get new sources,” Rutherford said.
In addition to her informative piece, Rutherford performed an improvised speech at the showcase. She was given two minutes to prepare and five minutes to perform a persuasive speech based on a random quote handed in by a professor attending the event.
During the time she was given, Rutherford pieced together a speech connecting the Disney film “Finding Nemo,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Thomas Jefferson to the Tina Turner quote “What’s love got to do with it?”
Rutherford, who has been doing forensics and debate since high school, said she sees herself continuing in forensics for the foreseeable future. Rutherford and Dowd both expressed that people interested in doing forensics should try it, but warned that joining the team takes dedication.
“It’s not something you walk into perfect. It takes growing a passion for it,” Rutherford said.
“It’s definitely an experience. You grow so much as a communicator and as a person. The professionalism you gain from this experience is absolutely incredible,” Dowd said.
The forensics team will compete in the American Forensics Association (AFA) National Individual Events Tournament, which takes place April 6-9 at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. The following week they will participate in a National Forensics Association (NFA) competition at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, from April 19 to 23.