Forensics earns honors at state tournament
February 27, 2012 2 Comments
by Erin Brock
The Transylvania University speech and debate team achieved great success this past weekend at the state tournament held at Berea College.
The forensics team brought home numerous honors, including third place overall in combined speech and debate in the state, only behind Western Kentucky University and Berea College, both institutions with much larger teams than Transy. The team also claimed second place among small schools in debate and can claim the title of Kentucky Small School Champion in Individual Events.
Team members earned high rankings in debate and individual events, including first place for junior Ian Smith as an open speaker and second place for first-year Taylor Deaton as a novice speaker.
“This is the only tournament where we compete head-to-head with Western Kentucky University, who are national champions for the last four years and state champions for more than a decade straight,” Director of Forensics Gary Deaton said. “They have full scholarships for speech and debate, a budget the size of a Division I sports team and compete almost every weekend. Despite that, our team of six debaters, five of whom did individual events, and the fact that we have the smallest budget of any of the four-year schools in attendance, we had tremendous success.”
Smith, who participated in six debates and then prepared 10 speeches with limited preparation time in the course of two days, described the tournament as “pretty intense,” leaving him “simply exhausted.”
“The support of the team is probably the only reason I am able to do so well in each tournament,” Smith said. “Having my coaches cheer me up in between rounds and take an active interest in how I am doing goes a long way to keeping my morale up throughout the weekend.”
“Our team is extremely close-knit, and we love to have fun and support each other. I would not enjoy speech and debate nearly as much if we all did not have such a great team bond and backing,” first-year Rebecca Radcliffe said. “We are always supportive of each other and it gives me the confidence to go into a round and do well, even when I know I have stiff competition.”
The prestige of the Transy team extends beyond its showings in the rankings at the end of the competition.
“One thing about the weekend is that it showed not only the skill and talent of our team, but also the high regard other schools have for our team and its members,” Gary Deaton said. “I was elected president of KFA (the Kentucky Forensics Association), Ian was elected president of the student organization, which also chose B. Prime (junior Bryan Dickman) as its (vice president) and Taylor as its treasurer.”
This impressive showing follows the graduation of “one of the strongest classes, forensics-wise, ever,” Deaton said, which included Andrew Boyette, Raven Mineo, Katrina Mineo, Erica Mundell and Brian Powell. The team last year won national awards in four events and three of the 30 finalists for All-American were from Transy.
With the graduation of the established team, Transy speech and debate had to rebuild. With Dickman, Smith and sophomore Weylin Gilbert already members of the team, first-years Rebecca Radcliffe, Taylor Deaton and Jesse Johnson joined up and have proven to be “stellar additions,” according to Deaton. Radcliffe and Deaton have won at least one award at every tournament they have attended.
The older members of the team have performed well throughout the season as well. Smith, in addition to his honors as top speaker in the state, took the top speaker award at the Murray State University tournament. Dickman made the finals in extemporaneous speaking and impromptu this past weekend.
“(Dickman) has really developed this year, both as a competitor and as a leader. In fact, he met with me at the end of the year last year to discuss how to make this year a success, and then has gone out of his way to make that happen,” Gary Deaton said. “He and Ian have been key to the success of the younger members.”
The lessons learned this past weekend will assist the team in competing at the national tournament of Pi Kappa Delta, the national forensics honorary, in Kansas City, Kan., over spring break.
“This (state) tournament helps build our confidence for nationals and also reminds us of where our areas of weakness, both individually and as a collective, lie. These areas will be addressed in our practice sessions between now and the national tournament,” Gary Deaton said.
“I can’t wait to go to nationals and bring home more success for our school,” Radcliffe said.
Deaton credits alumni Leigh Ann Jordan ’94, Clint Jones ’05, Raven Mineo and Brian Powell with helping to coach the team and being “keys to our success.”
“Debate team, more than anything, is about the atmosphere and the team more than the competition. As much of a blast it is to go to tournaments and represent Transy on a competitive academic field, nothing beats the hilarity and sense of community at the team dinners after tournaments,” Smith said. “My team is often times like my second family, … except I actually enjoy hanging out with them.”