By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
Two seniors finished their forensics careers this week at the National Forensic Association Tournament on April 16-19 in Akron, Ohio, and though they did not advance out of their preliminary rounds, both said they have been pleased with their performances this year.
Lizz Alvarez, political science major from McAllen, competed in extemporaneous speaking, and Layne Rouse, communication major from Midland, competed in rhetorical criticism at the NFA tournament, where participants only received bids if they placed first at previous tournaments during the year.
“You go to those things knowing that-it sounds like a cliche-but it really is an honor to be there because they’ve had to perform well at tournaments consistently throughout the year,” said Dr. Sally Gary, director of forensics and assistant professor of communication. “So you know they’re the cream of the crop when they get there, and it’s going to be difficult for them to advance.”
Alvarez, who has been on the forensics team for four years and has been captain for three, had already won a national championship in Lincoln-Douglas debate at a previous tournament this year. She said she was a little disappointed about not advancing at her last tournament, but she’s enjoyed her time on the team.
“The more I thought about it, I thought, ‘What if I came home the national champion?’ If that would make me feel better about myself or different about myself, that’s bad, and I’m probably not as good of a role model as I would like to be.”
Rouse has competed with the team for a year and said the experience has been challenging and a good learning experience.
“For me, it was just an honor to be able to go [to NFA] and that I was competing with every single person in that event who had placed first in a tournament,” he said. “The difference between the 124th person and the first-place person is very small; it really comes down to what the judges like. That was a victory in and of itself to receive a bid to go to that tournament.”
Rouse and Alvarez both are looking to the future and said their time on the team will help them in their careers. Rouse will attend Baylor Law School and said he hopes to work in leadership after that. Alvarez said she wants to be an advocate for the oppressed around the world.
“[Debate] helps me develop my gifts that God has given me because there are people who are waiting for me to utilize those gifts,” Alvarez said. “Debate just gives me an opportunity to develop my voice.”
She said she will miss competing with the team, but she knows they’ll do well next year.
“It makes me sad to think that this may be my last time I’ll ever travel with Dr. Gary or ever travel with my team,” she said. “But I know they can do fine without me, and that makes me very happy because if they couldn’t, I did not do my job.”
Gary said she is looking toward next semester, but ending the school year and seeing team members graduate can be hard.
“It’s a sad time of year for an old speech coach,” she said. “We get very attached in a four-year period, and it’s really hard to not see those faces you’ve been accustomed to seeing.”