Bri Greyling, Campus Carrier Copy Editor
Berry College Forensics Union (BCFU) dominated in their 25th consecutive Georgia Intercollegiate Forensics Association (GIFA) State Championship and eagerly waits for their three national competitions in March and April.
Twenty-three BCFU members traveled to the University of North Georgia at Gainesville for the GIFA State Tournament on Feb. 23 and has won GIFA since 1995. Berry College won first place in every individual event, placing within the top three spots in 10 out of 14 events and won a total of 46 individual awards.
GIFA is a highly competitive tournament with a positive and supportive environment, packed with many talented speakers from all over Georgia.
“GIFA is a super friendly tournament,” Assistant Director of Forensics Hope Willoughby said. “We are by far the most competitive team there, but we are really friendly and encouraging, especially to the programs that are smaller and just getting started. They are all also friendly and encouraging toward us.”
With a eight tournaments in the fall semester and five in the spring, the team takes each opportunity to impact the community.
“This year is a big deal, obviously 25 years in a row is huge,” sophomore Forensics Historian Shelby Newland said. “We wanted to do justice to the legacy of this program because there are some really successful people who have grown their skills through their participation in this community and have gone off to do really cool things in the world.”
The team has grown tremendously in the past four years and has nearly tripled in size, with 30 current students. BCFU took home a national championship by winning the Novice Nationals in 2018, which increased interest in the team. Due to its great success, BCFU welcomed many students to the team in the fall without many recruiting efforts.
“It’s helped us to have more visibility,” Willoughby said. “We’ve also been working on having more visibility on campus, and I think that is paying off too.”
BCFU has shown interest in hosting more events, such as the showcase in the spring where students can come and watch competitions on campus. Additionally, BCFU cosponsored the Story Slam in the fall. BCFU has also increased their presence on social media and their website to generate more awareness on and off campus.
The key to the success of the team is the commitment and extra hours put into creating their messages and delivery. The students choose topics with great interest and relevance in their lives, according to the Director of Forensics Matt Delzer.
“The team does so well because they spend all their time focusing on the message they want to share,” Delzer said. “There is not a topic or speech they give that they don’t deeply care about and spend time crafting.”
BCFU has many traditions, one of them being a team song. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen has been the team song since Randy Richardson began coaching in the 1990s. This was a tradition that Richardson brought to the team, and it has stayed true since, Willoughby said. Before competitions, the team listens and sings along to “Born to Run” every morning on the bus, according to Willoughby.
Junior Anna Claire Tucker and senior Olivia Brown qualified to represent Berry College and the state of Georgia at the Interstate Oratory Association on April 27 and 28 in Westchester, Penn. BCFU will also be competing at Novice Nationals March 8 through 10 and the American Forensics Association tournament April 4 to 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as returning champions.