Forensics team places 2nd at first tournament of the year

The Concordia Courier


By Leonard Memon | 10/7/2022

The Concordia forensics team placed second at the Golden Gate Season Opener that took place Fri., Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 at San Francisco State University.

Sean Nowlan, director of debate, said, “I feel very proud of our team’s performance, and this success is going to be indicative of a fantastic year.” Blake Longfellow, director of speech, said “Competitively, I feel good about [the tournament]. I feel like the students who put a lot of work in leading up to the tournament were rewarded.”

Preparing for the tournament was a team effort. Nathan Estrick, senior and co-captain on the debate team, said, “I very much enjoyed working together with the team to put together strategies. Between prepping for parli [amentary debate] or cutting cards for LD, everyone chipped in to help our teams win.” 

Haidyn Christoffel, senior and co-captain on the debate team, said, “I was very happy to see so much talent and success from our new debaters. It’s only the beginning for them and they are well on their way towards further success.”

There were numerous fresh faces on the forensics team that saw massive success. Ellie Harris, freshman on the debate team, won the top speaker award for the open National Parliamentary Debate category, Laura Gibson, freshman on the speech team, placed first in the novice program oral interpretation events on both days of the speech tournament, and Michael Shurance, freshman on the debate team, place first in the novice NFA-LD event.

The freshmen also had a great learning experience. Lucy Swan, freshman on both the speech and debate team, said, “It's important to support your teammates, watch their events, and meet new people from other teams to develop new relationships with people who have similar interests.” 

Andrew Reeder, freshman on the debate team, said, “There are horrible theories that are run, so you have to be ready for anything, literally anything!”

Returning competitors also saw massive success. Rebekah Mehrley, senior and captain of the speech team, placed second overall in the top speaker category. 

“I feel really good about how this tournament went,” Mehrley said. “I think it was good that our new students got to experience team-wide success and everyone seems on fire about the activity now. Thanks to our new coach, Blake, I have no doubt that this is just the start of an awesome year.”

Both parliamentary debate teams from Concordia made it to the final round, closing the tournament out. “My favorite part of the tournament was accomplishing one of my big goals of getting first place team in NPDA,” Christoffel said. “I knew with hard work we could do it eventually, and I’m happy that the year is starting off so well.”

Although the forensics team had a great opener, they are still looking for ways to improve. “We need to work on ironing out the kinks in the ways that we speak, but that can be done through repetition and practice,” said Nowlan.

“Our first wave of speeches is up now. We’ve done a lot of the hard work.” said Longfellow. “Memorization is 90% there. We just need to polish that.”

The forensics team looks forward to keeping their momentum in future tournaments. Konrad Hack, Director of Forensics, said, “It felt great! For the first tournament, that felt really really great!” Christoffel said, “I’m unbelievably excited to see what else this academic year brings the team. Go Eagles!!!”

Estrick said, “Speech and debate is not for everyone, but the skills that it teaches are extremely valuable, our team's community is great, and it can be a very fun and educational activity.” If you are interested in joining the speech and/or debate team, please contact


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