Whitworth hosts first home speech and debate tournament in university’s history

by Hayley O’Brien
News Editor

A historic event happened last weekend on the Whitworth campus. Students in professional attire flooded the MPR, men in suits swarmed Sodexo and women in blazers crowded Dixon, Robinson and Weyerhaeuser. The cause?

Whitworth hosted its first speech and debate home tournament.

Traditionally, Whitworth’s award-winning forensics team, which was resurrected in 2010 by professor and forensics coach Mike Ingram, attends only away tournaments.

“We are always the road warriors going someplace else,” Ingram said.

Last weekend, that tradition changed.

Having a tournament on Whitworth’s campus allowed students to show off their home to the other eight schools who attended and provided a greater opportunity for the Whitworth community to watch the team compete, Ingram said.


Those eight schools included: Carroll College, Montana; Lewis & Clark College, Oregon; Linfield, Oregon; Oregon State University; Northwest Nazarene University, Idaho; Pacific University, Oregon; Southern Methodist University, Texas; University of Washington, Washington.

Professors, family and friends of the forensic team members “can’t get in the van and drive 300 miles to Lewis and Clark with us but they can come this weekend, which is really exciting,” Ingram said.

The Northwest Forensics Conference season is composed of six speech tournaments. However, Whitworth’s team attends only three of them because the rst and last competitions fall too close to the beginning and end of the semester, Ingram said.

Pacific University’s forensics coach Dan Broyles and Ingram partnered to create the additional tournament to provide another avenue for students to compete and gain feedback, Ingram said.

“Coach Ingram is a linchpin of the community of de- bate, of forensics, in the Northwest— if not the country— and really anywhere he goes is a home tournament for him,” junior forensics member James Eccles said.

The tournament took weeks of planning to reserve classrooms, prepare the itinerary and invite schools and judges.

Some people invited to judge were former Whitworth forensics students such as Sarah Streyder, ‘15, Stephanie Saracco, ‘15, Sarah Dice, ‘15, Bri Miller, ‘15, Rebecca Korf, ‘15, Kym Davis, ‘95 and Lori Welch, ‘90.

“It’s a great mini-reunion of people who were and are dear to me and who love the institution and the program and help make this thing go,” Ingram said.

Ingram also hired local high school speech coaches, pastors, other educators, friends of friends and intelligent college graduates to create both an educated and a lay audience for the competitions, he said.

“It’s a high value that the students need to speak persuasively not just to the P.H.D.s who understand rhetoric like Dr. [Ron] Pyle [Whitworth communications professor] but also to an educated lay person,” Ingram said.

Under Ingram’s leadership the Whitworth forensics team won first place last year in the year- long standings of the NFC, was recognized as the best International Public Debate Association program in the NFC and dominated their first competition three weeks ago.

Currently, there are 20 members of the forensic team, 12 of whom are new this year.

“Having a large team certainly positions us mathematically to be competitive, but I like to think it is more of the quality than the quantity that makes a difference,” Ingram said

Quantity of team members gave schools less of a mathematical advantage at the home competition last weekend than at other competitions, however, because it was a swing tournament. At a swing tournament, the two schools each host one day of the tournament. Whitworth hosted the Saturday tournament and Pacific hosted on Sunday.

Last weekend, students who typically compete in both speech and debate were forced to chose between the two events.

“This will…force a lot of people to focus down into specific events and I think you might see a higher quality of specific events,” Eccles said.

Last year the additional swing tournament occurred on Pacific University’s campus and the coaches plan to continue offering the competition every year, alternating the venue between the two universities.

Contact Hayley O’Brien at hobrien17@my.whitworth.edu

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