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Forensics team prepares for national tournament

March 13, 2008

The UW-River Falls forensics team has been working since September to get ready for upcoming competitions and prepare for nationals which will take place in April.

  The team is lead by senior and team president Denise Burce and sophomore vice president Emily Pfannes. They are coached by professor Eric Eberhardt, and their advisor is James Pratt.

  “The word forensics means to research,” Burce said. “People usually think of forensics as a science or something, but it’s not.”

  Pfannes said some of the confusion lies in the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin. She said generally schools in Minnesota use the term “speech team,” while Wisconsin uses “forensics.”

  Burce said that her team tries to ease the confusion of the two titles by having their official title be the UWRF Speech Team (Forensics).

  For a majority of the members of the team, UWRF was not the first time they were part of a forensics team, having been on a team in either junior high or high school.

  “My goals were to improve my speaking skills and achieving qualifying for nationals,” Pfannes said.

  Those involved in the organization will prepare a speech to give from a number of different categories and usually work on it for the entire season. Some of the categories include: prose, impromptu and entertainment.

  While members usually work on the same piece all year, the work they begin the season with can be completely different by the season’s end. Teammates work together to help hone each other’s presentations and make it, hopefully, a national qualifier.

  One of the more difficult categories is impromptu. In that category, participating students are given a topic and they have one-and-a-half minutes to prepare a five-and-a-half minute speech.

  “We’ve had a really good season with really dedicated people,” Burce said. “I sort of think of it like track and field. We work on our own pieces and then together we train and improve.”

  “There is a lot of room for personal and team growth.”

  So far this year, five different individuals have qualified for nationals.

  There are two different national tournaments students can qualify for, the American Forensics Association and the National Forensics Association.

  Qualifying for nationals is different depending on what the tournament is. The first criteria, no matter what, is that there has to be enough people competing to consider it a national tournament qualifier.

  Some tournaments require a certain score to advance to nationals and others need students to make it to the first round or to finish in first or second place in the competition.

Forensics is not just an organization that people can be involved in.

  “Forensics can be taken as a credit course,” Burce said. “Some people may be interested in that. It’s a one-credit course that can be taken for two semesters.”

  The team is working to put together a Forensics Festival May 8. The activity will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building. Students will be performing some of their more entertaining pieces and if anyone on campus is interested in performing they are invited to do so.

  Forensics is not only for students in speech-related majors. The members of the team have a variety of different areas of study.

  Those who want more information on the team can e-mail speech.team@uwrf.edu or denise.burce@uwrf.edu or check out one of their practices. Practices are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:45 p.m. until about 6 p.m. Practices are either in the Black Box or B25 in KFA.