According to statistics, nearly 77 percent of the population has some anxiety towards public speaking. Due to this, many avoid the act as much as humanly possible. However, there are certain parts of our society who thrive on public speaking and not only do so for fun but compete on a national level as well. Some of these individuals can be found on the Whitewater campus as part of the UW-W Forensics team.
Don’t mistake this forensics for what you see on the television during your favorite crime show. In reality, forensics is a competition where students have different speech events that they compete in based on a mix of their own interests, what messages they want to put out and where coaches think they’ll be successful.
“I need to mention how resilient this group is,” said Co-Director Brian Schanen. “The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, especially when switching from in-person competitions to virtual. A lot of the sophomores on this team had their senior high school forensics season cut short. They’ve gone without some state competitions and had nationals pulled out from underneath them. They came into the virtual competitions and they have persevered through it, so I give them a ton of credit,”
These past two years have been difficult for the team attempting to navigate virtual competitions, however, being able to practice with each other in person again has really helped lift the mood of the members.
“The whole online thing makes the entire event a bit more tricky,” said sophomore Amanda Eaton. “For me, when it comes to public speech I always radiated off the energy in the room, so that was a trouble to navigate. It really taught me how to be more expressive and meaningful with my words and how I am showcasing them, just because they may not necessarily show over the camera as much. Still, I am so excited for nationals because last year I didn’t qualify, so this year it is really cool to have so many events going. The speech I’m doing is a pose, so I take other works of art of different genres; poetry, theaters, music, things like that and kind of piece them together. This one specifically is about religious trauma in LGBTQ individuals. It’s a really interesting take on something I have not really seen in the forensics community.”
Even with the difficulties facing the team due to the pandemic, they haven’t stopped the team from winning an outstanding 51 awards over the course of the fall 2021 competition season. Such accomplishments help many members prepare for their future careers.
“I was so honored to receive first place in the communication analysis event at the online tournament back in November,” said UW-W graduate and current teacher Kykayla Kuhn. “My prepared communication analysis piece was centered around the significant role children’s books have on how students view themselves and their peers, particularly around their names and various identities they may have. I was really excited to win the tournament in this event because it was a sense of accomplishment that others were hearing my message and were resonating with it.”
This year’s team is just as excited to continue winning awards this spring semester.
To learn more about the forensics team visit http://uwwforensics.com/