Organization Spotlight: Debate and Forensics Team

By: Catherine Wallace

The Debate and Forensics team kicked off the competition season with a 3rd place win at the Western Kentucky University Invitational on September 23rd and 24th. The team’s coach, Dr. Courtney Wright, had this to say about the the Invitational: “…[T]he team traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and took third place overall, placing ahead of roughly 15 other teams in attendance such as The University of Alabama, Wiley College, and William & Mary College. The season has started off on the right foot. The students are driven, bright, and on path to [do] well at the state, national, and international tournaments next semester.”

The team is comprised of a four person coaching staff made up of the head coach, Dr. Wright, and three assistant coaches, Stacy Bernaugh, Dave Nagel, and Huy Pham. Currently, the Debate and Forensics team possesses nine members, three of which are returning members while the other six are new recruits.

They offer a multitude of events, divided into four categories: Acting or Performing, Debate, Public Speaking, and Limited Preparation. Acting and performing events include Dramatic Interpretation, Poetry Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Prose Interpretation, Programmed Oral Interpretation, Reader’s Theatre, Slam Poetry, Stand Up Comedy, and Short Form Improvisation. Debate events include Parliamentary Debate, Lincoln Douglas Policy Debate, International Public Debate, and Public Forum Debate. Public Speaking events include Informative Speaking, After Dinner Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, Communication Analysis, and Rhetorical Criticism. Finally, Limited Preparation events include Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking.

The chair of the team’s public relations committee, a First-Year student named Britny Bergheger, also participates in the Parliamentary Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Impromptu Speaking, and Extemporaneous Speaking events. “The team is inclusive and diverse,” said Bergheger, when asked about the Debate and Forensics team. “Everyone is outgoing, and there is good interaction between the team and the coach.”

Another First-Year team member, Jasaun King, expressed enthusiasm for the “different personalities and different viewpoints” expressed by the other members. King is currently undecided about which events to participate in, but is considering Impromptu Speaking. In an interview, King shared with The Rambler his favorite part of being on the team, stating that “it [Debate and Forensics] improves people’s communication skills. A lot of people are scared to speak, or don’t know how to communicate. Being on the team really helps people improve their speaking skills.”

Katelynn Raines-Kilcoyne, the First-Year Chair of the poetry committee and also a participant in Parliamentary Debate, Poetry, and Prose, stated that “it [being on the team] gets stressful sometimes, but there are a lot of fun people.” She went on to say she liked “how the coaches try to relate to us”.



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