April 19, 2013 | 12:34 p.m.
By Linnea White '13
Bethel’s forensics team participated in the Christian College National tournament at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., this spring, taking second place in team sweepstakes in their division and participating in 20 different elimination rounds. Sam Schedler won first place in “Novice After Dinner,” while Emma Beecken and Sophie Nagle both took second place, Beecken for “Novice Impromptu” and Nagle for “Faith Literature.” Many other team members also placed in their events.
Forensics includes both speech and debate. All students compete in speech; some do both. There are three major categories within speech: speeches with limited preparation, platform speeches (in which the speaker maintains a position), and interpretive speeches. Some Bethel forensics members also compete in debate, which involves arguing an assigned position. Bethel competes in two types of debate: Lincoln-Douglas, which is a one-on-one debate, and parliamentary debate, a two-on-two debate.
Competition provides students with a chance to polish their speaking skills and compete on a high level in a friendly, supportive group. Team members devote time to weekly meetings and practices and weekend tournaments, typically on weekends from September until April. This makes for a busy schedule for both competitors and their coaches. But the time commitment is worth it, says team member Matt Sundquist, and the sense of community that develops is its own reward. “I love the tournaments and the competition…but I wouldn’t do it if the people on the team weren’t fun,” Sundquist says.
The team’s success at Christian College Nationals was the latest in a standout season. Sundquist believes that the ongoing success comes from a combination of factors—excellent coaching, a strong team bond, and individual effort. “Everyone on the team is devoted to doing well,” he says. Assistant Director of Forensics Jessica Samens echoes Sundquist’s comments. “Each of the students work very hard on their own individual as well as the group events, and it is really fun to see that,” she says. “The other thing is just the team cohesion and the support that they have for each other.”