Forensic Debate team makes first appearance at national competition | News

This year is the first time the SIUE speech and debate has gone to two national competitions.


This milestone for the team was supposed to take place last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic stopped it.


According to Nick Niemerg, the advisor for the speech and debate team, Illinois is one of the most competitive states for speech and debate.


“This year has been a lot of firsts,” Niemerg said. “We competed in two national tournaments, one being the national speech championship [and] one being the forensics association national tournament.”


Ally Moulton, a senior english secondary education student from Chatham, Illinois, and captain of the debate team, said to prepare they must practice their pieces, like interviews they have to present and vocal pieces they have to memorize, a lot and sometimes they work as a team.


“I have pretty much been running all my pieces nonstop,” Moulton said. “I will make sure my teammates and I are all really excited and we’ll practice as a group sometimes.”


Moulton said this year the tournaments were online, which made it different to participate in the tournaments and nationals.


“Some are even asynchronous which means we don’t even see the judge or anything,” Moulton said. “We essentially just send in the videos and throughout the week [and] judges will critique it.”


Hannah Sheahan, a freshman accounting major from Troy, Illinois, and the treasurer of the team said the experience was mostly the same, with a few differences.


“Overall, it hasn’t changed much,” Sheahan said. “There were a few elements that we lost … you still got the general gist of what it was like.”


Moulton said a change that she noticed was the social aspect of speech and debate.


“One big aspect that’s kind of not been as obvious is the social aspect,” Moulton said. “[For] a lot of people that’s a really big part of speech and debate.”


Moulton also said tournaments this year were easier to attend due to the online aspect of the event. They could compete in tournaments from the safety of their own homes.


“We have been competing in New York and up in the Northwest,” Moulton said. “For most of our tournaments I’m just in my apartment.” Sheahan also said it made tournaments more affordable because they didn’t have to travel.


“Tournaments can cost a lot of money, especially when there’s travel costs involved,” Sheahan said.

Niemerg said the team is always looking to recruit new members. To learn more about the team, visit their page on GetInvolved.

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