SDSU team off to Austin for national competition

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

The SDSU Jackrabbit Forensics Team once again succeeded in making it to the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament.

The Web site states that AFA strives to find excellence in public speaking, individual events and debate.

SDSU’s Forensics Team, also know as Phi Kappa Delta, recently took six members of the organization to the AFA district competition, which was held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Two of the students from SDSU will be going to the national competition on April 3 in Austin, Texas. The team leaves on April 3, but the actual competition will start on April 4 and end on April 7.

Both of the contestants that made it to nationals as well as all three of the coaches will be going to Austin. The two competitors going to nationals are Steven Brunner, a senior speech communications major – and president of the SDSU Forensics team – and Amanda Brossart, a freshman speech communications and political science major.

“The organization has been alive for 31 years and about 15 or 20 of them SDSU has gone to nationals,” said Brunner, who has been involved with the team for four years.

At a competition, the participant has a choice of 11 events that they are allowed to choose from. At districts, each contestant was allowed to choose six events to compete in. After they compete, they are ranked on a one to six level.

“The contestants always choose their own events. Coaches are there to just help guide them,” said Joel Hefling, head coach of the team and a faculty member of the communications and theater department. “I have coached the team for about 30 years and really enjoy seeing how the students improve and put so much effort into it.”

The 11 events include impromptu speaking, informative speaking, prose speaking, dramatic duo, extemporaneous speaking and persuasive speaking. Other events include program oral interpretation, after dinner speaking, communication analysis, drama interpretation and poetry interpretation.

“My favorite events are impromptu speaking and extemporaneous speaking,” said Brossart.

“Being involved in forensics made me a better speaker,” Brunner said. “My public speaking skills have increased tremendously in the past four years. It also teaches you how to research better. We have to update our speeches so often with new evidence that I have learned how to gather information more effectively. Forensics also provides opportunities to travel and meet lots of people from all over the country.”

The team competes from September to April and students are welcome to join any time throughout the year. The organization’s meetings are held every Monday at 5 p.m. in Crothers Engineering Hall for students who wish to learn more about the organization.

“We are always looking for people, even if you want to join in the middle of the semester,” said Brossart.

“I think people should join if they want to participate in an activity that will challenge them mentally and if they want to improve themselves academically,” Brunner said. “Despite common belief, forensic competitors are not all communication majors, and the skills we learn can be applied to any major.”