NIU hosting state speech tournament today, Saturday

Photo of a microhponeNorthern Illinois University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, together with the Department of Communication and NIU Forensics, is hosting students from 20 schools for the annual Illinois Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Tournament.

Preliminary rounds start today, and the competition will continue through Saturday at locations in the Holmes Student Center and DuSable Hall. Awards will be presented at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Cole Hall.

“Debate is just one aspect of the tournament, which will also consist of the 11 individual events,” said Judy Santacaterina, director of individual events for NIU Forensics.

“There’s everything from impromptu speaking to oration to oral interpretation events. Debaters debate parliamentary style, and with each round is a new topic, usually some kind of current event.”

In addition to hosting, NIU will field a team of 17 students. A number of NIU alumni also will return to serve as judges for the event, including John Butler, who serves as chair of the NIU Board of Trustees.

Students are being judged on different criteria depending on their events, Santacaterina said.

“When judging debate, each judge has a paradigm they present, but overall they are looking for strong arguments, evidence and delivery,” she said. “In the individual events, you are looking for content, research and delivery. Oral interpretation is more of a theatrical presentation.”

Judy Santacaterina
Judy Santacaterina

NIU has hosted the tournament every other year for more than 25 years and has earned the reputation as the “cradle of coaches” in the forensics community for the number of alumni who coach teams at other institutions.

“It started with Dorothy Bishop and M. Jack Parker, who we consider the pioneers of NIU Forensics,” Santacaterina said. “I have also continued that trend to train forensics coaches. Lisa Roth, our current director of Forensics, is a prime example of someone who was trained here and is carrying on that tradition.”

Other alumni who studied at NIU under the tutelage of Santacaterina and now direct or coach teams participating in the tournament include Kacy Abeln, Kishwaukee College; Chase Budziak, Kishwaukee College; Bonnie Gabel, McHenry County College; Kari Janecke Schimmel, Illinois Central College; David Naze, Prairie State College; Jeff Przybylo, Harper College; Sunny Serres, Harold Washington College; Melissa Entzminger, Highland College; and Ken Young, Bradley University.

For more information, call (815) 753-7961 or email [email protected].

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