Forensics brings home national wins

Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

Over spring break, the Berry College Forensics Union traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to compete in the Novice Nationals Forensics Association National Tournament. The three-day competition against approximately 20 other schools resulted in a nationally-ranked title, Large Team Division Champions, and Open Division Champions. 

Shelby Newland, a freshman who achieved national championship in dramatic interpretation, says that a lot of the praise should go to the coaches Matt Dezler and Hope Willoughby. Newland said they gave [the coaches] their nervousness, dedication, abilities, and excitement. 

“They turned around and gave us all of their passion and guidance,” says Newland. 

She credits the team’s success with the coaches’ ability to turn their raw talent into skill. For example, Newland says that Dezler and Willoughby would spend one hour a week with each student to better prepare them for the upcoming tournament, and that by finding each member’s strengths and weaknesses, they were able perform as well as they did. 

“Being able to see the growth that our coaches had helped us foster over the course of the year, helped us go in with a certain confidence,” says Newland.

Nadia Clinkscales, a freshman who placed sixth in the informative competition, said that the coaches provided constructive criticism that helped flesh out the parts of their speech to ensure the best products when performing.

Clinkscales said that the coaches are what makes the club a fun experience. When preparing for the Novice Nationals Forensics Association National Tournament, placing well was not on the coaches’ minds. Their goal was to have the students ‘Learn First,’ as said by Clinkscales. 

Now having secured national titles, the team plans on keeping the momentum. However, for the time being, Clinkscales says that they will focus on honing their skills in order to become better performers. 

“We want to continue to learn about the competition, the tournaments and about ourselves and what we want to say to the world,” says Shelby Newland. 

The Forensics Union allows the students a platform to speak about issues that are important to them, such as personal struggles, mental health and racial injustices. Clinkscales says that the speakers share the information that they find important in order to educate others. Having a topic that they are knowledgeable and passionate about allows them to fully share the situation. 

“Few students are aware of the forensics team and what they do,” according to the press release from Berry Public Relations. 

Clinkscales says that by competing in the Novice Tournament, she hopes to bring more attention to the club and pique the interest of other students. 

The Forensics Union serves to enhance communication skills and practice public speaking. Newland said she finds that these skills will benefit her even after college. She hopes that other students will hear the success of the team and be inspired to share their stories through debate and speech. 

The complete list of wins is as follows:

Dramatic interpretation: 

Shelby Newland- National Champion

Tasha Mwangi- 2nd Place

Nadia Clinkscales- 4th Place 

Duo Interpretation:

Ben Allee, Olivia Brown- 3rd Place

Jacob Pritchett, Noah Syverson- 4th Place

Tasha Mwangi, Britton Ody- 6th Place


Jacob Pritchett- 2nd Place

Impromptu Sales:

Jacob Pritchett- 3rd Place

Kandra Martin- 4th Place


Jacob Pritchett- 2nd Place


Nadia Clinkscales- 6th Place


Britton Ody – 2nd Place

Poetry Interpretation:

Shelby Newland – 3rd Place


Noah Syverson – 6th Place


Noah Syverson – 5th Place

Tasha Mwangi – 6th Place

Public Narrative:

Tasha Mwangi – 2nd Place

Olivia Brown – 3rd Place

Shelby Newland – 4th Place

Ben Allee – 5th Place

Noah Syverson – 6th Place

Kandra Martin – 7th Place

Ashley Beaubouef – 8th Place

Rhetorical Criticism:

Hunter Berry – 4th Place

Chase Hollub – 6th Place 

Slam Poetry:

Noah Syverson – 2nd Place

Shelby Newland – 5th Place

Individual Sweepstakes:

Jacob Pritchett – 2nd Place

Tasha Mwangi – 6th Place

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