Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tennessee State University Forensics Program Students Excel In Qualifying Tournaments

Tennessee State University’s forensics team won 135 awards during the fall semester and is poised to surpass the number of awards earned in previous years, Director of Forensics Kimberley LaMarque said.

In the two-day 2009 Holiday Frolic tournament hosted by the Ohio State University Dec. 4-5, the team won 19 awards and placed third in the team sweepstakes of the 30 competing colleges and universities. Two weeks prior, two team members nabbed 21 of 26 possible awards at the 2009 Tennessee Porch Swing Tournament, hosted by Carson-Newman College and Belmont University.

“Forensics is the competitive art of public speaking. The more our students compete, the better they and the program will become. Competitions prepare the students to think on their feet and give them the necessary tools to produce under pressure,” said LaMarque, who also serves as associate professor in the University’s Department of Communications.

LaMarque credited the stronger showing to having an increased coaching staff, allowing for a specific plan of learning objectives to be created for each team member. Emily Kofoed, assistant director of the forensics team, and TSU alumnus Clarence Ball, assistant coach, have both joined LaMarque’s administrative team within the past year.

“Since joining the forensics team, I’ve become a faster thinker and more confident speaker. Preparing speeches for tough competitions and challenging practices has also made me a better writer. There’s nothing like it,” said first-year team member Derrick Johnson, a sophomore speech communications and theater major from Cleveland, Ohio.

LaMarque said the team prepares to compete in at least six tournaments per semester and often hosts one tournament on campus each fall. However, budget restraints have limited the team’s participation to only four-to-five events per semester.

Each tournament consists of 11 different categories of competition, including interpretation, prepared and limited preparation events. Andrea Durham, who serves as the team’s president and is a second-year team member, said she loves the interpretation events, which include prose, dramatic, poetry, dramatic duo and program of oral interpretation.

“In 10 minutes, I get to tell a story that wouldn’t be told otherwise. In a world of instant gratification, 10 minutes can be a long time to get your point across and keep an audience captivated,” said Durham, a junior biochemistry major from Bowie, Md., about her love of competition.

Next up for the team is the Mid-Year Championships hosted by University of Texas-Austin this month. LaMarque said the team members have worked hard and are prepared to win even more awards at the upcoming tournament.

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