When Caitlyn Wicks learned she would be competing at the 2013 National Forensics League’s National Speech and Debate Tournament, she was a little more stunned than most.
“I was a first alternate, so I didn’t fInd out I would be going until the end of April,” said Wicks, who will be a senior this fall at Truman High School. “I was really happy when I found out. I was ecstatic actually. I danced around the classroom, I was so excited.”
Seven students from Truman High School qualified to compete at the tournament, which is June 16 to 21 in Birmingham, Ala. Those who qualified are Wicks, international extemporaneous speaking; Tara Williams and Rachel McGee, duo interpretation; Michael Cohen, dramatic interpretation; Caitlin Fitzpatrick, domestic extemporaneous speaking; Kenyon Briggs, U.S. extemporaneous speaking and Damon Brown, U.S. extemporaneous speaking.
Three students from Blue Springs South and seven from Blue Springs High School also qualified for the tournament.
Fitzpatrick, who will be a senior this fall, said she was a “little lightheaded” when she learned she had qualified for the tournament. In domestic extemporaneous speaking, competitors draw a topic and then have 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech. She said although she is excited about competing in her event, she is also looking forward to the supplemental events, which students get to try once they are out of the tournament in their original event.
“They sound like fun because these events are not something I get to try on a daily basis,” she said. “I would like to break top 60 (in domestic extemporaneous speaking), but if that doesn’t happen, I would like to do well in extemporaneous commentary.”
Brown, a May graduate, is a four-time qualifier for Truman. He has made the trip twice in policy debate, twice in Lincoln-Douglas, twice in U.S. extemporaneous speaking and once in Congress (if a student qualifies in multiple events in a given year, they must choose one). He said he believes it is easier to do well in events like extemporaneous speaking because there is no script like in policy debate. It is all about preparing and staying up-to-date on as many news events as possible.
“I want to be in finals. My goal is to go out with a bang,” said Brown, who is attending William Jewell College this fall. “Qualifying for a fourth year was fun. I owe a lot of thanks to my other debaters who helped me get here.”
Briggs, another May graduate, said it felt “pretty good” to qualify his senior year.
“I went into the tournament without much success, so to finally do well felt like all of my hard work paid off,” he said. “I don’t really have a goal. I am going in with the mindset of doing what I have done all year. We’ll just see how I place. If I could break top 60, I would be ecstatic.”
Page 2 of 2 - Williams and McGee are competing with a piece entitled “Windy’s Tale.” It is the story of a girl who does not do well on tests because her imagination distracts her. She then uses that imagination to her advantage and starts improving.
No stranger to the national tournament, this is Williams’ third time to qualify. Last year, the May graduate placed fifth in duo interpretation with Cohen.
“I definitely feel more prepared and more relaxed because I have experienced it (the national tournament),” she said. “I don’t feel so much pressure this year to do that well. I feel like I have made my mark, so I have been having more fun this year. Our goal is to have fun and enjoy every round.”
McGee, , a senior this fall, said she thinks she and Williams work well together and enjoy the performance, which has led to the duo’s success this year.
“We chose this piece because it was humorous. It also helped that we were both girls. It was just simple and cute,” she said. “It is nice being with someone who knows what they are doing and has been there before. We enjoy what we do, and I feel like that shows in the performance.”
Cohen is performing a piece entitled “Touch.” It is about an astronomer who loses his wife and is going through they process of learning to accept her death. A veteran of national competitions, Cohen not only placed fifth in duo interpretation in 2012, but also placed fourth in humorous interpretation in 2011. This was the first year the May graduate competed in dramatic interpretation.
“Because I had experience humorous interpretation and duo at the highest level, I thought it would be fun to take on a new challenge,” he said. “As I have gotten older and more mature, I wanted to do something that allowed me to use more personal development acting wise. I am just excited to have another opportunity to see my friends and compete. I have no other goals than that.”