Leading Stories

by Nicole Allen, Staff Writer

The UWF Speech and Debate Team’s spring competitive season has commenced with more competitors, coaches and victories.

On Friday, Jan. 24, the UWF Forensics Team attended the Southern Forensics Championship at Mississippi State University where they competed against 27 schools and nearly 200 competitors from surrounding states. Participating in her first tournament of the spring season, team president Nicole Allen received first place for her after dinner speech highlighting Filipino discrimination and colorism.

Also representing the UWF Forensics Team were new members Kaitlin Broadnax, Mary Rogers and Simon Moore, who also attended the season’s first tournament at the University of Florida earlier this month. All three competed in impromptu speaking and Moore presented a compelling persuasive speech that outlines a new approach to data privacy.

“There is nothing better in the speech world than seeing someone fall in love with the activity at their first competition,” Director of Forensics Dr. Adam Blood said. “It would take weeks of coaching to replicate what competitors learn at their first tournament, but more importantly, getting to see competitors from other schools and going through the excitement of actually competing is such a great, inspiring and motivating force.”

The speech and debate team has grown by six competitors since in the fall season and only two have prior experience in the activity. They have all shown, with or without a background in public speaking, that the benefits of speech and debate are broadly advantageous.

“It is important to surround yourself with talent when learning any performance art,” Moore said. “In dance, I found that I learned a lot from my peers organically, and this has also been true in speech. The competitors and teachers are amazingly talented, and you will learn a lot from them very fast. I find myself surprised by how great a learning catalyst forensics can be.”

Also new to the team are assistant coaches Alyssa Lee and Christina Cusack. Both are graduate students in UWF’s Strategic Communication program. While Lee and Cusack are also new to the speech and debate world, they have extensive knowledge in the performing arts.

Lee possesses a substantial background in theatre and Cusack performs live improv shows around the Pensacola area.

“As one of the new graduate assistant coaches,” she said, “I am very honored to get to be around these students daily. Getting to travel with the team is my favorite part of the job and being around the them has only solidified my decision to be an educator in the future. I am grateful that everyone has accepted me as a new member of the team.”

Graduate assistants for the speech and debate team have weekly coaching sessions and meetings with each team member. Additionally, they refine speeches, performances, prepare competitors for limited preparation speaking events, and travel with the team to competitions, where they spend upwards of 8-12 hours a day judging a variety of individual events.

“Alyssa Lee and Christina Cusack have been so positive, encouraging and selfless with their time,” Blood said. “They each bring a unique skill set and background knowledge, and our competitors are truly lucky to work with them.”

The UWF Speech and Debate Team will travel Feb. 21-23 to the State Championship in Orlando. The team will then attend the weeklong, highly competitive Pi Kappa Delta National Championship tournament in San Diego, CA in March.

Any questions pertaining to the UWF Forensics Team or inquiries about joining the team should be directed to Dr. Adam Blood at ablood@uwf.edu.