Anything but speechless

Senior Amanda Voirol placed first in the overall sweepstakes competition, awarded to the individual who garners the most points after competing in at least four events.

April 7, 2010

Bradley University won a national championship last weekend at the American Forensic Association Tournament in Eau Claire, Wisc. – but the victory comes as no surprise. The university’s forensic team consistently contends for national championships and is regarded as one of the top programs in the country. This is the 20th AFA national title won by Bradley students.

The long history of success doesn’t make the victory any less impressive, Coach Dan Smith says. The team has been diligently preparing for this season since last May.

“It’s amazing,” says Smith, who had won the tournament with five other BU teams. “This senior class deserved to know what it feels like to win nationals, and I’m so thrilled for them that they achieved it. … It’s about the students.”

Senior Amanda Voirol placed first in the overall sweepstakes competition, awarded to the individual who garners the most points after competing in at least four events. Voirol also won first places in dramatic interpretation and duo interpretation. Senior Jared Boyer teamed with Voirol to defend the pair’s duo interpretation title from last year and also claimed second place in the individual sweepstakes competition. Senior Patrick Campbell took third in the individual competition, marking the first time three people from the same university claimed top three individual sweepstakes honors.

Freshman Cecil Blutcher claimed 11th place overall.

The impressive showing propelled Bradley to the team title over second-place Western Kentucky University, a traditional forensics power.

Since 1980, the Bradley Speech Team has won 36 national team forensic championships. This record of success is unmatched by any other forensic or academic program in history.

“We knew coming into the season that we had a very strong, experienced team with a great number of talented freshmen and transfers,” Smith says. “Most of our seniors had already reached national semifinals and finals in their careers, and that experience is invaluable. That was combined with an amazing freshman and transfer class that we knew could produce great results if we brought them along effectively. All in all, we knew at the start of the season that we could win nationals.”

 

Smith also credits the success to the support of alumni and former speech team members, who form a close-knit community even after graduation. Bradley alumnus and former national champion Tyler Billman serves as assistant director of forensics and several former members went to Eau Claire to help the team and judge the national competition.

The speech team isn’t done yet. Members will compete in the National Forensic Association Championship Tournament at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, next week. They expect nothing less than a top finish and look to build on their previous competitions. They also plan to have a good time.

“Once we were able to build their confidence with victories at significant tournaments throughout the year, many of them remembered that forensics is also fun,” Smith says.



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