UWF to host Novice National Speech and Debate Championship

The University of West Florida will host the 35th annual Novice National Speech & Debate Championship on March 10-12 in the University Commons and classrooms across the Pensacola campus. Students from 25 institutions from 15 states will participate in the tournament.

Novice Nationals is a collegial event that advances forensic education for first-year competitors. The tournament features International Public Debate Association and parliamentary debates and 16 public speaking events, such as impromptu sales, slam poetry, public narrative and sports communication.

“What I like about this tournament is that it’s the only tournament in the country that focuses on first-year competitors,” said Dr. Chris Fenner, director of the UWF Speech and Debate Program and president of the Novice National Forensic Association. “In smaller regional tournaments or larger national tournaments, first-year competitors usually have a tough time breaking through into the final rounds. For a lot of new students, this is their first opportunity to flourish against other students at their experience level.”

Fenner said 135 students registered to compete in 416 different speech and debate rounds. Four students will represent UWF at the tournament in Micah Brunet (IPDA debate), Brittany Rock (after dinner speaking, impromptu sales and impromptu speaking), Susanna Rogers (persuasive speaking, informative speaking, impromptu sales and sports communication) and Lovely Sainsurin (poetry interpretation, impromptu sales, impromptu speaking and dramatic interpretation).

Last year, UWF placed fifth overall in the small team entry division. Three UWF students placed top five in their events. Micah Brunet finished fifth in sports communication, Liz Martin placed fifth in persuasive speaking and Sarah Robinson finished fifth in slam poetry and sixth in public narrative.

In 2015, Meghan Conklin advanced to the finals and placed sixth in extemporaneous speaking.

This will be the second year UWF hosts the Novice National Speech & Debate Championship. In 2008, UWF attracted the largest number of participants in the history of the event. Fenner said the number of competitors decreased in recent years, but the number of students registered this year is back up.

“People want to come to Pensacola,” Fenner said.

For more information about UWF Speech and Debate Team, visit the UWF Department of Communications Arts website