Speak up!

Andrew Hampp

Forensics team debates chances of success at national competition

When the Kent State Forensics Team competes at this weekend’s national competition, it won’t be dissecting body parts or examining crime scenes.

The Forensics team, more commonly known as a speech and debate team, will compete in the National Forensics Association tournament held this weekend at The University of Akron. The tournament commenced yesterday and will continue through Sunday evening, when semi- and quarter-finalists should be decided.

Rather than using scalpels, the forensics team competes with words in a total of 11 categories including poetry, prose, dramatic interpretation and impromptu speaking. Having just officially recommenced as a team in December 2004, the team has been busy all semester, participating in various competitions held at state, national and international levels.

Team coach Jennifer Talbert, a graduate student in Kent’s communication studies department, said people mistaking her team for a “CSI”-esque gathering is a common misconception.

“I just had contact with someone the other day in the science field,” Talbert said. “She was saying, ‘I wanna join the forensics club; it’s part of my major.’ I told her, ‘That’s the wrong type of forensics.’”

Most recently, the team had members take home a first-place trophy for poetry and third place for prose interpretation at this year’s state competition at Cedarville University Feb. 19.

Winning such high-profile awards brought Kent State back into the forensics forefront, said Talbert, after being unable to compete one year ago due to a lack of funding.

Talbert, who is coaching Kent State’s team for the first year after six successful years as Ball State’s forensics coach, said the team’s funding comes from a “hodge-podge” of sources.

Since the funding is so limited, the team can only afford to have four members at the moment, due to high entry fees for individual events and hotel costs.

Team member Amanda Seese, junior broadcast journalism major, said she has experienced financial conflicts since she started competing for Kent State’s team two years ago.

“I’m very fortunate that my parents are very big advocates of what being in speech has done for me,” Seese said. “They sprung the cost for me to go to nationals and be able to compete my freshman year, and they’ll continue to support me for nationals this year, even though it’s just in Akron.”

Yet despite her parental support, Seese said she would like to see similar support from the university.

“I understand the university is strapped in so many different places, but this is an academic program that can be such a big benefit to so many people,” Seese said. “There’s not a job or some situation in your life where you’re not gonna have to get up and speak effectively in front of a large group of people.”

Team member Beth Sadowski, freshman English major, transferred to the university from Muskingum College, where she participated in forensics competitions, including one against Seese.

Having been through the national competition routine twice before, Sadowski had several goals going into this year’s meet.

“I want to break everything,” she said, coining a phrase that means to advance to the next round. “With the position the team is in at this point, most of what we have has the potential to break to quarter finals.”

Talbert echoed Sadowski’s desire to place high at this year’s competition, following a third-place overall finish at state.

“One of my goals was to try and place in the top five at state and we got third,” said Talbert. “We’re gonna do our best to let other schools know we’re a force to be reckoned with.”

The winning team is expected to be announced Monday night.

Contact Pop Arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].