Berry hosts Novice Nationals Forensics Tournament

Mya Sedwick, Campus Carrier staff writer

Beginning March 6 and lasting through March 8, Berry will be hosting the Novice Nationals Forensics Tournament. Forensics is the umbrella term used for speech and debate. The Novice Tournament is for first year forensic students, and allows these students to get a better idea of what the world of forensics is like. 

All day Friday there will be events surrounding debate, while Saturday’s and Sunday’s events will be predominately focused on speeches. The tournament will be spread across campus with its headquarters located in the Krannert Center. Thirty schools from across the country will be in attendance. Unlike sports, there are no divisions in forensics, so Berry students will be competing against larger colleges and universities like the University of Alabama. 

Freshman forensics team member Morgan Thoem will be competing in five events at Novice, including rhetorical criticism speech, informative speech, public narrative speech, a program oral interpretation and a duo interpretation. To prepare for each of these events, Thoem spends her spare time practicing her speeches and also receives training from the Director of Forensics Matt Delzer and Assistant Director Hope Willoughby. Coaches help students put their speeches and events together before the tournaments and then go over the ballots and feedback with them afterwards so students can see where they should make changes. 

The Novice Nationals Tournament is held so that first year forensics students, like Thoem, have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field where other competitors are also in their first year. Though this tournament is larger than other regional tournaments attended by the forensics team, the sense of community among the competitors is the same. Junior Shelby Newland, though not competing in Novice, remarked on what she thinks is the best part of any tournament. 

“Really, my favorite part of the tournament is in between rounds when people draw strength from one another and encourage each other because the forensics community is so welcoming,” Newland said. 

Novice Nationals is an event open for all to attend. People are allowed to watch the competitors during their speeches and debates, much like one would watch a TED talk. Each competitor spent time crafting and memorizing a speech about a topic they are passionate about, making the events more entertaining than one might think. 

“Everything that we do is meant to be seen; it’s meant to be performed and it’s meant for people to hear,” Thoem said. 

One of the most interesting aspects of the speeches and arguments that are presented are the unique perspective from each competitor’s viewpoint. These topics are often presented in a way that people have never been exposed to outside of the forensics world. 

This tournament is a culmination of all the hard work put forth by competitors and their coaches over the past year. Though winning is in the back of everyone’s minds, the ultimate goal is not to win, but to gain experience and confidence for future competitions. Participants and coaches alike are hoping for a smoothly run tournament where all competitors have a fun, meaningful experience. 

“I want a smooth tournament with like fair, quality competition for the students and it’s looking like we’re well set up to do that. As a coach…we are very interested in our students doing well,” Delzer said. 

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