Shepherd’s Debate and Forensics Team hosted the Collegiate Forensics Association (CFA) Southern Excursion Debate and Forensics Tournament Feb. 11-12. Originally, the event was to be hosted by the University of Richmond. But when Richmond couldn’t play host to the event, Shepherd stepped up to host its first large tournament in years.
Several college and university debate and forensics teams from the Mid-Atlantic area competed in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Persuasive Speaking, Informative Speaking, After Dinner Speaking, Duo-Dramatic Interpretation and Parliamentary Debate. Overall, Shepherd finished fourth, competing against teams from University of Lynchburg, Bloomsburg University, Florida College, Randolph Macon College and Liberty University.
The two debate events were Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Parliamentary Debate. In addition to the debates, the event included five black book writing events, which consist of interpreting and publicly analyzing writing. Additionally, there were five events centered on persuasive speech.
Several of these events are categorized by the amount of time participants are given to prepare. Limited Prep Time events grant participants a limited window to research a topic that is not known to them before entering the event. Impromptu events grant each participant seven minutes to research, plan, and deliver a speech to encourage quick thinking. Lincoln Douglas events consist of topics that participants have been aware of and prior to each event.
To prepare for events like this, participants attend Debate & Forensics, a class in the Political Science department that readies students for public speaking and competitive debate. While participants do not need to be enrolled in this course to attend events, it is required of them that they attend classes to compete. According to the club’s leader and Debate & Forensics professor Kate Stotler, about half of all participants are actively enrolled in the class. Students practice researching and debating current events as well as poetry and other texts.
The event was judged by alumni of the program who are encouraged to refer to guidelines laid out on the CFA’s website. These guidelines range from the merits of each competitor’s presentations to how effectively a speaker accomplishes what they set out to do. The organization’s guidelines urge all judges to “. . . recognize that the conventions that may characterize forensics and debate events are just that—conventions . . .” and acknowledges that there is no correct way to go about a debate.
Shepherd University’s debate team has a history of excellence with their winning track record. They are led by Kate Stotler, who was very passionate about the importance of public speaking.
“Public speaking, argumentation, and persuasion are essential skills. They apply to your whole life – not just your classes here at Shepherd.” – Kate Stotler.
On March 4-5, Shepherd’s debate team heads to Ocean City, Maryland, to compete in CFA at the Beach. Shepherd will compete against the same teams that came to Shepherd to compete, along with University of Richmond and Lenoir-Rhyne College.
The Shepherd event concluded on Saturday, Feb. 12, with Shepherd students earning the following results:
1st Place: Olivia Stevens, Single Dramatic Interpretation
2nd Place: Audrey Chapman/Olivia Stevens, Dramatic Duo
3rd Place: Chelsea Wells, Declamation
3rd Place: Alonzo Perry, Lincoln-Douglas Debate
3rd Place: Olivia Stevens, Poetry Interpretation
4th Place: Nick Marsico, Persuasive Speaking
5th Place: Chuck Feaster, After-Dinner Speaking
6th Place: Jackson Heath, Informative Speaking
6th Place: Josh Gossard, Persuasive Speaking
6th Place: Kevin Knotts, Impromptu Speaking