UA speech team excels at nationals

“Although sports get the most recognition, the University of Akron’s Forensics Speech Team quietly had another successful season. Competing at the National Forensic Association’s National Speech and Debate Tournament April 13-19, the team placed 7th in the nation out of 84 total teams at the event.”

Although sports get the most recognition, the University of Akron’s Forensics Speech Team quietly had another successful season.

Competing at the National Forensic Association’s National Speech and Debate Tournament April 13-19, the team placed 7th in the nation out of 84 total teams at the event.

The tournament represented the culmination of a really great season for the team, faculty advisor and coach Mark Rittenour said.

He stressed that it was not just one person that lead to the team’s success, but rather contributions from each team member. Just like in sports, everyone’s efforts count towards the final score.

In addition to placing in the top 10 at the tournament, this year held at the Ohio University, the team also had two individual national finalists-Eric Bonilla, a mid-year graduating senior, and junior Katie Giglia.

Bonilla, a speech language pathology and audiology major, placed 4th in the nation in Poetry Interpretation out of 166 qualified students at nationals. As he explained it, in poetry interpretation competitors have a group of poems with a central theme and characters in each. There is an introduction, and at the end a resolution must be reached.

Last year he made it to the quarterfinals in this same category, but his recent 4th place finish is the best he has ever done. He also placed 13th at nationals in Prose Interpretation, and was a state champion in Poetry Interpretation at this year’s Ohio Forensic Association’s State Championships.

Public speaking is one of the most widespread fears, and members of the speech team are not immune.

I get really nervous, Bonilla said. I have bad performance anxiety, but it’s gotten better the more I’ve done it.

Giglia, an interpersonal language and public communication major, took high honors at nationals in Prose Interpretation, the largest category with 210 qualifying students-placing 5th.

Prose Interpretation, as Giglia explained it, is when competitors make an argument and prove it by telling a story.

Giglia said she faces nerves when she is competing, but she would not have it any other way.

I get butterflies, but I wouldn’t do it otherwise, Giglia said. It keeps me going. The sense of nerves goes away and it’s like I’m on autopilot. I become the characters in the story.

Coach Rittenour had compliments for the whole team, Bonilla and Giglia especially.

They, for years, have been leaders of this team who work hard and it’s so gratifying to see them achieve the level of national success that they so deserve, Rittenour said.

The team did well in other events throughout the year, placing in the top four teams at 14 regional tournaments around the nation, including taking 3rd place at the aforementioned state championships.

Every October the speech team hosts 2 tournaments on campus so students can learn more about joining. Coach Rittenour said an ad is also usually included in ZipMail, or students can contact him by phone or e-mail to find out when fall tryouts will be held-(330) 972-2459, or mritten@uakron.edu.