Speech and Debate Teams Win Big

Story by Nicholson News

UCF’s speech and debate teams faced stiff competition against 12 other schools in the Florida Intercollegiate Forensics Association (FIFA) state championship. The February tournament was held at Tallahassee Community College, in Tallahassee, Fla. FIFA is the governing body of college speech and debate in the state of Florida. The UCF debate team won a state championship within the tournament and saw a lot of hard work rewarded.

The debate team dominated at the conference, advancing three out of the four semifinalist teams in both the Lincoln-Douglas (LD) and Parliamentary debates. Parliamentary debate is a competition where students are given roughly 20 minutes to prepare for a round; students are assigned a topic and side to argue. Topics change every round. LD differs because the topic remains the same all year. This year’s topic focused on whether or not the U.S. should reduce its military presence in Latin America. Students use in-depth research to argue for both sides of the debate.

In LD, Maeven Rogers, a junior human communication major, and Pablo Debs, reached the semifinals along with Ethan Uhlig. Uhlig, a freshman mathematics major, advanced to the final on a coach’s decision. He defeated a competitor from Florida State University and was named State Champion in Lincoln-Douglas Debate.

“My personal championship win, along with the team’s overall best in debate performance, felt like a justification of all the effort we put in throughout the season,” said Ulig. “We did not go into the state tournament as the favorites in anyone’s eyes, but through hard work we were able to shock everyone at the tournament with a dominant, explosive debate team. There is no sweeter feeling than reaping the fruits of your own dedication.”

In Parliamentary, Uhlig and Lukas Terhall, a junior computer science student, placed second over Isabella Yerby, a freshman economics major, and Kendrik Richmond, a junior psychology major. The third team comprised of Chase Cashion, a junior theater major, and Christa Beriswill, a freshman communication sciences and disorders major.

UCF also saw some very promising results from the speech team. The final rounds are composed of the top six competitors in a given event. In the Communication Analysis event, students individually present a speech including the discussion and analysis of a communication model or theory. UCF advanced three competitors into the final for this particular event, which is a significant achievement. Sophomore emerging media major Nicole Young placed sixth, Beriswill placed fifth and Terhall placed third. In addition, Terhall advanced in the Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking events, which require quick thinking,  and finished in fourth place for both. Cashion joined him in the final round of Extemporaneous speaking and finished third.

“For a team primarily composed of underclassman we did exceptionally well,” said Director of Speech Jonathan Conway. We accomplished most, if not all of our goals and I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication of this team.” UCF’s regular season wrapped up with a fourth place overall ranking in the state of Florida.

UCF’s role in the state community has expanded beyond just competitive success. At its annual business meeting, Conway was elected to a two-year term as president of FIFA. He hopes that through his leadership, Florida will grow into a premier state for speech and debate activities.

The future looks bright for UCF Speech and Debate.

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