Competing in the nation’s largest college forensics competition this year from UF were, from left to right: Colin Rawls, April Roam, Scott Stewart, LaToya Edwards, Eric White, Idania Herrera and Raju Vyas.

Debating Gators

Article Originally published in the April 2006 issue of CLASnotes.

Competing in the nation’s largest college forensics competition this year from UF were, from left to right: Colin Rawls, April Roam, Scott Stewart, LaToya Edwards, Eric White, Idania Herrera and Raju Vyas.

While the University of Florida Gators and the George Mason Patriots were going head to head in the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball playoffs during the first weekend in April, both universities’ speech and debate teams were busy competing against each other for a national title of their own. Nearly 500 of the nation’s top student speakers converged on the UF campus for the 29th annual American Forensics Association-National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) on April 1–3.

“These students are the cream of the crop,” says Kellie Roberts, director of the UF Speech and Debate Team. “They had to prequalify in order to compete, and many of them had already won major awards. It was very exciting to watch them square off against one another.”

The event is the largest in college forensics and 2006 marks the second time UF has been selected to host the major tournament, which was last held on the Gainesville campus in 1996. “Schools have to put in a bid two years prior, then I visit the site to make sure everything is OK,” says National Tournament Director Larry Schnoor, the retired professor and chair of the Department of Speech Communication at Minnesota State University-Mankato. “UF was chosen for its great classroom space, convenient location and the excellent reputation of coach Kellie Roberts.”

The three-day event drew top-ranked speech and debate teams from 92 universities and colleges from across the US. The UF team placed 17th overall, but while the Gators might have defeated the Patriots on the basketball court to go on and become the national champions, George Mason ranked higher at AFA-NIET, claiming 8th place.

“Our goal was to make it into the top twenty schools this year,” says Roberts. “Compared to George Mason, and others who placed above us, we are one of the few programs without scholarships and one of the smallest squads. UF accomplished this top ranking with only seven students competing.”

Scott Stewart, an economics junior, attained the team’s highest honor this year by placing fifth nationally in impromptu speaking. Both Stewart and graduating public relations and political science senior LaToya Edwards reached the quarterfinal round in extemporaneous speaking. Public relations junior Idania Herrera made it into the semifinals for prose interpretation, while political science senior Eric White reached the same level for program oral interpretation. White was also a quarterfinalist in dramatic interpretation. Graduating seniors Raju Vyas and April Roam, along with junior Colin Rawls, also represented UF in the national championship.

“There are so many events, it’s easy to find something you enjoy,” says Vyas, an economics major who served as the team’s president this year. “Whether you are interested in politics, science or arts, there is bound to be something for you.”

The first time Tennessee native Scott Stewart stepped on the UF campus was for a debate tournament his senior year of high school. He was so impressed with the UF Speech and Debate Team, particularly coach Roberts, he decided to come to UF. Roberts says hosting events like AFA-NIET helps raise the institution’s academic image. “Because UF is best known for its athletics and research, it never hurts to show off what we are achieving academically,” she says.

For more information on the UF team or AFA-NIET results, visit www.cwoc.ufl.edu/debate.

Credits

Writer

Buffy Lockette

Photo

Buffy Lockette

back to the 2006 news index >>

top >>

CLAS Navigation

News, Calendar of Events, Head of the CLAS, Submit News/Event, Media

Search


CLAS Portals

Alumni
Faculty/Staff
Parents
Students

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

2014 Turlington Hall
P.O Box 117300
Gainesville FL 32611
P: 352.392.0780
F: 352.392.3584