ROME, Ga.-- On the weekend before the world shut down, March 6-8, six members of the Westminster College Speech & Debate Society competed in the Novice National Forensics Tournament. Twenty- seven colleges and universities from every region of the country gathered on the campus at Berry College in Rome, Ga., for the national championship. After three days of intense competition, Westminster emerged with several national individual awards and a sixth-place overall team finish!
Novice Nationals features competition among students who are involved in the first year of intercollegiate speech and debate activity. Several Westminster novices qualified for elimination round competition and brought home national awards. These include:
- Freshman, Iris Davis Hall 6th place Rhetorical Criticism, Semi-Finalist Impromptu,
Semi-Finalist Impromptu Sales
- Freshman, Evan Brochinsky 4th place Impromptu Sales, Semi-Finalist Impromptu
- Sophomore, Peyton Mackinlay 5th place Public Narrative, Semi-Finalist Impromptu
- Freshman, Izayah Bojanac Semi-Finalist Impromptu Sales
- Freshman, Kiana Miles with 2nd place Readers’ Theater
Hall, Brochinsky & Bojanac
Freshman Teddy Curcio added valuable preliminary round points to the team total competing in three separate individual events. Senior Julie Yesko traveled with the team and served as a judge and assistant coach at the competition.
The Westminster effort is noteworthy for several reasons. First of all, no team member had competed in more than three intercollegiate tournaments. All but two were competing in their first or second contest against competition that, for the most part, had been competing all season long. Additionally, many of the squads included as many as 10 to 15 competitors. The “Titan Six” certainly achieved beyond their expectation.
Forty- five students competed in the event, Impromptu Sales. After three preliminary rounds of competition, the top twelve speakers advanced to semi-final round competition. Westminster
accounted for 4 of the 12 semi-finalists, one-third of the elimination round competitors! Two Titans also made it to semi-finals of Impromptu Speaking. While the topics in these events are truly Impromptu in nature, revealed on the spot, students spend countless hours practicing numerous topics and techniques related to the event. Their incredible showing is a testament to the work ethic of these students.
The runner-up national champion Readers’ Theater was entitled, “In Praise of Mediocrity.” It featured four Westminster students in a 25- minute performance of essays, poetry, cuttings from a novel and excerpts from plays praising various aspects of marginalized performances, also-rans and the all-too-encompassing human characteristic of not being unique.
Peyton Mackinlay’s award-winning Public Narrative told the story of how three generations have come to deal with his grandfather’s service in Vietnam, and how PTSD from that war compares with the drone-induced PTSD plaguing our nation’s soldiers today. Iris Davis Hall’s Rhetorical Criticism analyzed the rhetorical strategies of White House Spiritual Advisor, Paula White and her unique approach to argumentation.
All in all, it was an impressive weekend for the Titans. Their southern sweep started a spring break and school break that will not soon be forgotten…or finished. It seems like a different world from just a month ago, but the students no doubt learned valuable communication lessons gathering in rounds of competition and packed into a van in the hours before social distancing and cancellations. One thing’s for sure, Sunday, March 8, 2020 was a great day to be a Talkin’ Titan!
Novice Nationals Top Six
- Tallahassee Community College
- Belmont University
- University of Alabama
- Berry College
- University of Indianapolis
- Westminster College
Westminster finished ahead of a number of schools including: Bowling Green State University, Butler University, Cameron University, Carson Newman University, Colorado College, Fullerton College, Lafayette College, Marian University and Northeastern State University and 12 others.
The students regret that they will not be sharing their performances on campus at URAC this year. They look forward to returning to competition next season, pandemic permitting of course. Next February, Westminster is scheduled to host the Pennsylvania Forensic Association State Tournament.
Thank you for your support of these students and their efforts on behalf of the college. We appreciate your working with class absences and reworking work assignments to make this learning experience possible.