Fall Semester Highlights – Luisa Gunn

The competitive forensics circuit in the Fall of 2020 is unlike any other before it. The realities of COVID have cancelled tournaments and pushed the remaining online. Tournaments are both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded videos). Most of our team is competing from bedrooms, offices, and living rooms across the country. Despite these challenges, Lafayette Forensics has had a remarkable semester. In order to celebrate these accomplishments we will be profiling the success of some of our most senior competitors before celebrating the team’s accomplishments at the end of the semester! We at Lafayette Forensics hope that you are all coping with the COVID-19 pandemic to the best of your ability and hopefully these stories will brighten your day!

Luisa Gunn (’21) has had a remarkable first semester of her senior year.

September: To kick off the year, Luisa was invited to compete in the prestigious Alexis Elliott Memorial Round Robin. It was the first time in 4 years that Lafayette had an entry in this tournament. Luisa represented Lafayette well and the pressures of this competition prepared her for the semester ahead.

October: At the first Northern Tier Debate Conference (NTDC) of the year, Lafayette came ROARING out of the gate. The team was led by Luisa who finished as co-champion, top speaker, and helped earn the team a first place finish. It was a phenomenal performance by the team and happened in no small part due to Luisa’s unparalleled leadership and peer coaching skills.

November: In November Luisa grabbed some more success, this time in individual events. As an exemplary competitor in limited preparation events, Luisa recorded videos for submission to the California Baptist University’s asynchronous tournament. She finished 2nd in extemp! The very next weekend at the third NTDC tournament, Luisa continued her winning ways and was again tournament co-champion and 2nd speaker at the tournament. Two weeks later, Luisa led a small contingent at the Illinois State University’s fall tournament. This national circuit tournament was a bloodbath, but Luisa managed to navigate the prelims to a 4-2 record and an octofinalist finish.

December: The debaters attended one last tournament, the Fall Finale. Co-hosted by Lafayette and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the tournament had a national draw and marked the end of the semester. Luisa finished as a semifinalist and was the 4th place speaker! It was a great end to a very strong semester that involved 3 tournament championships and two more elimination round appearances.

Her success builds upon HOURS of hard work every week. She leads the team through research assignments, organization, and motivation. We are very excited to see what comes next for Luisa and the entire squad. With four or five more tournaments left before the National Tournament, Luisa has helped build a team ready for success on a national level! Congratulations!

Fall Semester Highlights – Scott Kamen

The competitive forensics circuit in the Fall of 2020 is unlike any other before it. The realities of COVID have cancelled tournaments and pushed the remaining online. Tournaments are both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded videos). Most of our team is competing from bedrooms, offices, and living rooms across the country. Despite these challenges, Lafayette Forensics has had a remarkable semester. In order to celebrate these accomplishments we will be profiling the success of some of our most senior competitors before celebrating the team’s accomplishments at the end of the semester! We at Lafayette Forensics hope that you are all coping with the COVID-19 pandemic to the best of your ability and hopefully these stories will brighten your day!

Scott Kamen (’21) has had a phenomenal semester.

September: Straight out the gates Scott virtually traveled to the University of Texas-Austin’s Hillcountry Swing. He took 2nd in Informative, 4th in Persuasion, and 4th in Prose. The very next weekend, Scott competed at an asynchronous tournament hosted by Western Kentucky University. Scott’s Informative speech won 1st place! This was a huge accomplishment at one of the early national circuit tournaments and was a sign of things to come.

October: The awards kept rolling in at George Mason. This was the first time Lafayette had attended this tournament in a VERY long time, but we showed extremely well. Scott took 4th place in Communication Analysis and 5th place in Informative. At the first SNAFU tournament, he took 4th place in Persuasion and 5th place in Prose. At Seton Hall, he took 1st in Persuasion, 2nd in Informative, 3rd in Communication Analysis, 5th in Prose, 2nd place in Individual Sweeps. In addition to the trophies, Scott also was named the winner of the Ed Leonard award that recognizes a competitor who approaches forensics with a sense of warmth and community.

November: Back on the asynchronous grind at California Baptist University, Scott took 1st in Informative, 2nd in Communication Analysis, and 2nd in Prose. Despite all of this success, some of his best results were still to come. At the Nebraska-Lincoln tournament he was tournament champion in Communication Analysis, Persuasion, AND Individual Sweeps (and a 3rd in Informative to boot!). The cherry on top was at one of the most prestigious asynchronous tournaments of the season, the Norton at Bradley University. Scott’s recorded performances were awarded a quarterfinal finish in Prose, 2nd place in Informative, and 5th place in Communication Analysis. This was enough for 5th place in Individual Sweepstakes and 2nd place in Limited Team Sweepstakes!

Give Scott your congratulations! These accomplishments would be impressive over the course of an entire season, but Scott has another semester’s worth of tournaments to add to these impressive accolades. Stay tuned for an other profile in a couple of weeks.

Saeed Malami ’20 named the National Forensics Association’s TOP PERFORMER

Saeed Malami ’20 was named the top performer (Performer of Highest Distinction) in the National Forensics Association’s Performance of Distinction competition for Seniors.  Seniors were asked to submit recordings of four of their very best performances of the year for consideration by committees of coaches.  Saeed was a performer of distinction in ALL FOUR of his events.  He was awarded with Performer of Distinction recognition for his After-Dinner Speaking and Prose Interpretation Performances.  He was also awarded with the Performance of Highest Distinction in BOTH Poetry and Rhetorical Criticism.

In addition to Saeed, Chris Mayer ’20 was also named a Performer of Distinction for his performances in Extemp, Impromptu, and NFA-LD debate.  Andrea Rivera ’23 won Novice Performance of Distinction honors in Poetry and Lincoln Douglas Debate.

For more information, see the article on Lafayette Today:

Saeed Malami ‘20 tops all competitors at national forensics championship

John Boyer named NFA Tournament Director

Debate coach, John Boyer, was appointed as the National Forensics Association’s Tournament Director for the next three National Championship Tournaments!  His task is a difficult one, with the possibility of an interrupted season and post-season.  Planning one national tournament is hard, planning another one to take place online is a big ask!  Read more here:

 

John Boyer chosen to lead National Forensic Association’s national championship

Lafayette wins its 2nd consecutive Pa. State Championship!

While the National Forensic Association’s championship tournament won’t be starting tomorrow, Lafayette’s students are taking the opportunity to perform for two different online showcases!  Watch this space for a round-up of the accolades from those performances.  Until then, here is a retrospective on our 2020 PFA State Championship and a preview of those digital competitions!  Enjoy!

Forensics Society Dominates State Championship

212 Awards! Fall 2019 in Review

The 2019-2020 academic year has seen Lafayette Forensics Society grow to become the biggest team in program history.  Over 30 students have competed in Individual Events and Debate!  The team has grown to the point where we decided to break new ground in college forensics by hiring two remote coaches to work with some of our students.  Rahul Guha (former competitor and coach for Bowling Green, Miami (OH), and Beavercreek (OH) HS) and Decker O’Donnell (former competitor and coach for Lewis and Clark) have been brought on to help coach individual events via Skype and other platforms.  The team is big AND talented.  This size, talent, and expanded coaching was the foundation for a record-breaking semester for Lafayette Forensics.

57 first place finishes;
4 individual sweepstakes championships;
and 212 total awards!

For a complete rundown of the tournament results at the 14 tournaments we attended, click on the tournament name below.  Follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook for live updates during the spring semester!

OCHOIE Invitational at Lafayette College

Carolyn Keefe Memorial Tournament at West Chester University

SNAFU at West Chester University

Northern Virginia Community College

Pennsylvania State University

Jack Lynch Invitational at St. Anselm College

The Norton Invitational at Bradley University

The Charity Ball at Dutchess Community College

McKendree University

Ed Leonard Memorial Tournament at Seton Hall University

SNAFU at Seton Hall University

Frolic Some More at Otterbein University

Off-Broadway Swing at Nassau Community College

Off-Broadway Swing at Hofstra University

Saeed Malami is NATIONAL CHAMPION at IOA!

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Saeed Malami (’20), has won the Interstate Oratorical Association’s (IOA) 145th annual championship tournament.

IOA is the longest running public speaking competition in North America. The first tournament was first held in 1874 in Galesburg, IL and has been held without interruption every year since. Two students are selected by each state to participate. In 2019, the representatives from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were both students from Lafayette College (Saeed Malami and first-year Lia Charles). They attended the tournament this past weekend (April 27-28). Coincidentally, the tournament was held this year in Philadelphia, PA.

Against the best competitors from each state, Saeed finished in the top 12 that advanced to a semi-final round. He advanced to the finals, which was held in the Independence Visitor Center overlooking the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. In the final round, Saeed gave a stunning performance and the judges crowned Saeed Malami as the 145th Interstate Oratorical Association’s national champion.

Attending this prestigious competition is an honor. Lafayette has a long history of representing Pennsylvania at this tournament. We have placed students in the semi-final round, but Saeed is Lafayette’s first finalist and is our first champion (and only the second from Pennsylvania). Past IOA competitors include William Jennings Bryan, Senator Robert LaFollette, and Senator George McGovern. Saeed’s championship broke barriers in the forensics community. He is the first Nigerian and is likely the first non-US citizen to win the competition. As his coach, I’ve seen firsthand the deep dedication he has given to this performance. His speech on child slavery within the chocolate industry has been a passion project rooted in academics and a personal connection to the topic as a West African.

Congratulations, Saeed!

Lafayette Finishes Strong at NFA Nationals

SANTA ANA, CA – Lafayette Forensics travelled to sunny Santa Ana, California for this year’s National Forensics Association’s Championship Tournament.  For one week, the members of the team left the dreary spring weather behind for the California sunshine.  Over 80 schools competed in the tournament that completes the team national championship calendar.  After Novice Nationals, Pi Kappa Delta, and the National Speech Championships, the squad was read for one last chance to perform.  Lafayette competed and won awards in both Speech and Debate, one of the few schools to do so.  The tournament was highlighted by Luisa Gunn’s extraordinary performance in debate that placed her tied for 5th in the nation and Saeed Malami finished tied for 13th in Persuasion and DI!  Luisa’s performance, along with her teammates, was enough to earn Lafayette 6th place in Debate sweepstakes, a major improvement over last year’s 10th place finish.  It was an excellent tournament and several finishes, like Kelly Mwaamba’s 4th place finish in Novice Poetry, are sign of great things to come for Lafayette Forensics!

Luisa Gunn – Quarterfinalist in LD Debate
Saeed Malami – Quarterfinalist in Persuasion, Quarterfinalist in Dramatic Interpretation
Ansh Mishra – Triple Octofinalist in LD Debate
Kelly Mwaamba – 4th place in Novice Poetry

6th place in Debate Team Sweepstakes

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