April 13, 2015 | 1 p.m.
By Lauren Pareigat, Communications Specialist, College of Arts & Sciences
Bethel University’s Forensics Team finished up a successful spring semester with several team awards and national championships.
At the Minnesota Collegiate Forensic Association state tournament, junior Emma Beecken, who is majoring in social studies education, elementary education, and history and sophomore Kerry Bloomfield, nursing and history double-major, won the state title in parliamentary debate. They were the top ranked team after preliminary rounds and won all three of their elimination rounds to capture Bethel’s third state championship in parliamentary debate. Also at the state tournament, junior nursing major Sam Schedler took third in “After Dinner Speaking” and sixth in “Impromptu Speaking.” Beecken also took third in “Informative Speaking.”
The team then traveled to South Dakota State University for the annual “Bunny Bop” tournament, where Bethel took fifth in the team sweepstakes. Beecken placed second in individual sweepstakes as she won “Informative Speaking,” second in “Extemporaneous Speaking,” and sixth in “Impromptu Speaking.” Junior economics and finance major Kyle Arvila took sixth place in “Extemporaneous Speaking.”
The team’s final tournament of the season was the National Christian College Forensics Invitational at Colorado Christian University from March 20-22. Bethel came home with five national championships. Freshman Nathan Strecker, missional ministries major, was both the top novice and the top overall speaker in “After Dinner Speaking,” with Schedler taking third. This marks the third year out of the last four that Bethel has held the top novice in “After Dinner Speaking.” Senior teaching English as a second language major Samantha Stocker won “Communication Analysis,” with sophomore Gina Graham, a Spanish education and communication arts/literature education major, taking third. Stocker was in the final round of “Communication Analysis” in each of her three years of competition. Beecken was the top parliamentary debate speaker in the junior varsity division, marking the first time Bethel has earned a top speaker award in parliamentary debate at Christian College Nationals. Several of Bethel’s first-year competitors also placed high in novice divisions. Freshman missional ministries major Emily Forster was the novice national champion in “Poetry Speaking” and the third place novice in the performance of “Faith Literature.” Freshman Kaylee Isom, an elementary education with pre-primary major, was second in “Novice Oral Interpretation.” Freshman Katie Saffell, an English literature and writing major, placed third in “Novice Poetry Speaking.”
Director of Forensics Michael Dreher, Ph.D., noted, “We thought that we had a very good first year class, but I think they exceeded even their own expectations. To have a freshman win an event in an open division is very rare, so it was a testament to Nathan’s hard work and skill that he was able to win ‘After Dinner Speaking.’ Kerry had never debated before this year, so for her to win a state championship speaks to her ability to speak effectively under time constraints and her skills in synthesizing information in order to win many different kinds of judges’ ballots.” Dreher also noted, “What’s important about this year is not just the successes, but also the sense of community that the team created. Bethel Forensics is a place where teammates care for and support each other as they learn how to improve their speaking skills and as they learn more about the world around them.”
Students are able to incorporate a variety of disciplines into their forensics speeches, such as history, literature, and science. Dreher noted, “Sam Schedler’s ‘After Dinner’ speech is a perfect illustration of being able to utilize his background in both nursing and communication. His speech discussed the tendency for over-testing in the medical field, using humor in order to make a serious argument.” The team’s GPA is typically at least a 3.6, which is one of the highest in the country for forensics teams. Missional ministries major Zach Goscha is the only 2015 graduate, but next year several students are traveling abroad, student teaching, or graduating early. Dreher observes, “It will be challenging to replace the experience that we’ll have leaving this year and next, so our new team members will be very important to our success.” Students don’t need experience to compete on the team.
Jessica Samens is the Assistant Director of Bethel’s Forensics Team, and Lacy Jabas and Chasity Gunn serve as assistant coaches. The team typically travels to about 20 tournaments during their October through March season.Visit the Results page for a complete list of the team’s successes this season.