Concordia hosts largest tournament in history of forensics program

The Concordia Courier

Concordia Irvine

By Leonard Memon | 2/10/2023

Concordia’s forensics (speech and debate) team hosted the largest tournament in its history from Jan. 28 to Jan. 29 all across campus in honor of Jannese-Davidson, a former Concordia director of speech.

The historic size of the competition pool was one of the most noticeable aspects of the tournament.

Brittany Hubble, assistant director of forensics at El Camino College, said, “It is nice, not only relative to how large this tournament has been in the past, but also relative to other tournaments right now. It’s a lot bigger than most other tournaments we’re going to, so it’s nice to get that feel back.”

Michael Shurance, freshman on the debate team, said, “It was like an opening movie premiere!” The size of the in-person tournament was especially impressive considering COVID had pushed forensics competition into a computer-mediated event in the not-so-distant past. 

Rolland Petrello, director of forensics at Moorpark College, said, “It was great coming back to this tournament after a couple of years away because of COVID, and wonderful to see it even bigger than it was before. That represents real progress for our community.”

Daniel Cantrell, director of debate at Mt. San Antonio College, said, “We were worried that competitors wouldn’t come back from the online format, so the fact that competitors decided to come back in-person to compete is really exciting for the strength and health of speech and debate.”

The utter size of the competition pool encouraged diversity within the larger group, from the different university competitors that attended, the locations the competitors were from, and the interesting perspectives each competitor brought to their rounds.

Axel Aguilar, junior on Concordia’s speech team, noted, “There are a lot of people from community colleges, private universities and public universities.” 

Hope Yonehara, freshman on Concordia’s speech and debate team, also noted, “You have people from Chicago, Minnesota, Virginia, and of course, California.”

The different backgrounds that competitors came from encouraged refreshingly diverse perspectives. Aine Molvik, senior on Concordia’s speech team, said, “It’s exciting having all the community colleges and universities from across the country coming together to the tournament, each with their own unique perspectives on current topics.”

Cienna Collicott, freshman on Maricopa Community College’s speech, agreed. “It was interesting to see competitors who had different speaking styles and interpretations of the quotations,” said Collicott.

Alan Fishman, Concordia-hired judge, said, “I saw a lot of good debates, and I appreciated the opportunity to help students I was judging to improve at debate.”

Bill Neesen, director of forensics at Irvine Valley College, said, “In individual events, both the [group] size and people outside the region were of a very high quality, and so it was really great to be from a college like mine to see the competition that four-year universities brought to prepare for nationals.”

Rebekah Mehrley, senior and captain of Concordia’s speech team, said, “This tournament really challenged me, both through the sheer magnitude of high-level competitors and the unconventional topic choices.”

While the competition is important, it is nowhere near as valuable as the skills that individuals learn and the friendships they make that they can carry into their future endeavors. As Konrad Hack, director of forensics at Concordia, said at the awards ceremony, the real trophies were the competitors in the audience, not on the pieces of paper on the stage.

Andrew Eilola, director of forensics at highly-competitive Bradley University, highlighted some of his favorite aspects of the tournament. He found, “Sometimes we get really distracted by the ranks or the competition, but there is an emphasis on community, there’s an emphasis on having fun, and taking whatever you're saying within the round way beyond a speech tournament.”


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