WMU News

Forensics team takes third in state tournament, heads for nationals

April 12, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University took third place at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League's 2000 state tournament held March 17 and 18 at WMU.

The event, which was organized by WMU's Forensics Team of Competitive Speech, Theatre and Debate, drew 94 participants from 11 public and private institutions--the largest number of schools to compete in the tournament in recent history.

Individual scores from the tournament's 12 competition categories were compiled to decide the state's top schools. Eastern Michigan University finished in first place while Central Michigan University came in second.

In addition to allowing schools to vie for sweepstakes honors as having one of the top-three teams in Michigan, the 2000 state tournament gave individual competitors one last opportunity to qualify for this year's National Forensics Association tournament April 13-17 at Ohio University.

Also participating in the state tournament were Ferris State University, Jackson Community College, Kellogg Community College, Lake Superior State University, Northwood University, Oakland Community College, Oakland University and Wayne State University.

Andrea Brennan, a junior from Breckenridge and media/public relations officer for WMU's forensics club says 14 WMU students are now qualified to take part in the National Forensics Association tournament (SEE LIST BELOW).

"We've only been in existence for four years," Brennan says, "so we're extremely pleased with our state tournament performances. We took fifth three years ago, fourth last year, and despite the large turnout, third this year."

Debate teams were among the first student organizations to be formed at WMU after its founding in 1903. By the 1920s, the school had four teams as well as a Forensics Board to supervise their activities and debates. They competed among themselves, U.S. institutions and occasionally schools from other English-speaking countries, including England.

However, support for such intense competitive discourse gradually waned at numerous higher education institutions. Many communication departments, which often sponsored university debate teams, saw these teams as too adversarial and began focusing their attention on promoting interpersonal communication skills rather than debate skills.

At WMU, the last organized debate team finally folded in 1982. It was replaced in 1996 by the Forensics Team of Competitive Speech, Theatre and Debate. Affiliated with the Department of Theatre, it is one of three student-run teams in the nation and the only one that has acted as host for a state competition.

"We reinstituted forensics because we wanted more opportunities to improve our speech skills and to have fun while doing that," says the team's founder and current president, David Nadolski, a senior from Midland. "Forensics is one of a few equal opportunity teams. It awards trophies for what you can do with your mind, no matter who you are or what shape you're in."

The club began with a handful of students and a shoestring budget. Nadolski coached the team for three years and initially served as vice president, secretary and treasurer. Now, membership ranges from 20 to 40 people and the annual budget has grown to $10,000.

"Early on, we couldn't afford tournament entry fees or hotel rooms, so we depended on the kindness of other teams. EMU was particularly helpful," Nadolski says. "We've come a long way. A lot of Michigan schools either haven't reestablished forensics teams or don't compete out of state."

Students who qualified for the National Forensics Association tournament are:

Andrea Almassy; W. Bloomfield, Mich.; elementary education; programmed oral interpretation.

Andrea Brennan; Breckenridge, Mich.; political science and Spanish; impromptu, poetry.

Dylan Clark; Overland Park, Kan.; anthropology and Spanish; dramatic interpretation, duo.

Sarah Heacock; Grand Rapids, Mich.; social work; programmed oral interpretation.

Ken Holda; Dearborn Hgts., Mich.; speech pathology; prose.

Vincent Jonna; Dearborn, Mich.; finance; dramatic interpretation, duo.

Jessica Landin; Plymouth, Mich.; general business; duo, programmed oral interpretation.

Jason Linn; Lake Villa, Ill.; political science; extemporaneous speaking.

Clare Mathes; St. Clair Shores, Mich.; psychology; dramatic interpretation.

Otis McGresham; Detroit; organizational communication; debate, impromptu.

Julie Morris; Traverse City, Mich.; political science; impromptu.

David Nadolski; Midland, Mich.; theatre education and organizational communication; duo, impromptu, poetry.

Karin Silak; Walled Lake, Mich.; fashion merchandising and French; duo.

Aaron Webb; Vicksburg, Mich.; political science; impromptu.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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