Campus Life

UWF Forensics Team topping national tournaments

Not everyone can easily walk up to a podium and own the stage. However for the University of West Florida Forensics Team, inspiring audiences to move to action, debating social issues or performing dramatic literature at a national level are some of the things they do best. Winning a national championship, the UWF Forensics Team has a rich tradition of excellence in speech and debate leading them to also win numerous state, regional and national awards.

“Students have competed for the team in the past claim that the experience was the richest part of their college experience,” said Brendan Kelly, director of UWF Forensics. “It has given them experience for their professional development as a speaker and performer and on a personal level.”

The UWF Forensics Team attends approximately 15 competitions during the competitive season, running from September to April. These competitions are held throughout the United States, allowing members to travel to scenic locations such as Ohio or Michigan. Each competition consists of a variety of public speaking, oral interpretation of literature and debate events, including persuasion, poetry and dramatic duo.

“I am excessively proud of our team this year. Our Forensics students have put in hundreds and hundreds of hours of work and travel to achieve competitive success on a national level,” said Kelly. “Equally important, I am so proud of the fact that each and every time we have traveled to a competition or hosted an event on our campus, our team, many of which are majors in the Department of Communication Arts, have been stellar ambassadors for UWF and the national collegiate speech and debate community.”

The Forensics Team successfully hosted the Novice National Championship March 15 and 16 hosting more than 40 colleges and universities from across the country. UWF Sophomore Bobby Bonacolta placed second in the nation in the Lincoln Douglas Debate speaker competition and was a semi-finalist in the Lincoln Douglas debate overall.

“This event provided significant exposure for UWF and made a meaningful contribution to the health, longevity and success of the national speech and debate community,” said Kelly. “We are very proud of our work as host to visiting students and colleagues.”

Recently, UWF’s Forensics Team placed among the top 10 schools at the Pi Kappa Delta Comprehensive National Championship held in St. Louis. UWF placed among the top 10 schools in both Individual Events Sweepstakes and the Overall Team Sweepstakes (debate and individual events combined). Every member of the UWF team advanced to a quarter, semi or final round. This was one of the most successful national performances for the program since its inception in 1973, and the team came home from St. Louis with an individual national champion, seven national finalists and 14 competitive slots having advanced to national elimination rounds.

For more information contact UWF Forensics at (850) 474-3365 or Brendan Kelly, director of Forensics, at (850) 474-2332 or e-mail

By Megan Tyson, University Marketing Communications