College of Central Florida students won numerous public speaking and interpretation awards, including eight state titles, at the Florida College System Activities Association Forensics State Championship Feb. 5-6 and at the Florida Intercollegiate Forensics Association state championship Feb. 19-21.
The CF Forensics team won the Readers Theater State Champions and finished in second place in Overall Team Sweeps and Individual Events Team Sweeps in the FCSSA competition. CF student Eileen Hernandez was named State Champion in three events – Poetry (interpretation), Persuasive and Communication Analysis (speaking). Additionally, Edgar Soto (first-year member) took home three awards, Macy Ryan (first-year member) two awards, and Sayjal Jaimungal second place in Programmed Oral Interpretation. Forensics Coach Dr. Matthew Maddex was voted FCSSA Coach of the Year.
At the FIFA competition, the CF team was named State Champion in Readers Theater and in the Limited Entry Division. Hernandez was named State Champion in both Communication Analysis and Persuasive Speaking. In winning the Persuasive Speaking event, she earned an invitation to compete at the Interstate Oratory Association, the oldest speaking competition in the United States. Hernandez and one other Florida representative will compete in the national contest in April. Additionally, Ryan took sixth place and was named Top Novice in Poetry interpretation. Jaimungal took sixth place in Programmed Oral Interpretation. The team took fourth place in Individual Events sweeps and fifth place in Overall Team sweeps.
The CF Forensics team has never won this many state titles at the two Florida state competitions. For the first time, CF has won Readers Theater at both state competitions and won Persuasive speaking at both state competitions and qualified a student to compete at IOA. For the first time, CF has won Communication Analysis at FIFA.
“When the pandemic hit, I was concerned about what our 2020-2021 season would be like. However, the students on this team have been there for each other throughout this pandemic. Forensics has been an outlet for them to express themselves in many different speaking formats,” said associate professor of Speech and director of Forensics, Dr. Matthew Maddex. “The online competitions have allowed our students to compete more and develop their voices more throughout this season. In total we have competed at 12 forensics competitions and earned 60 individual event awards and 13 team sweeps awards.
“When I started coaching this team two years ago I could not imagine that we would have a season like this,” said Maddex. “We still have some big dreams to achieve before this season is done but it has been amazing to see these students embrace the challenge of COVID-19 – embrace each other – and continue to Find Their Voice through forensics.”
Students will compete at a couple of tournaments in March and then the Phi Rho Pi two-year National Championship in April. In intercollegiate forensics, which includes speech and debate, students compete in team and individual events in a variety of areas including interpretation of literature (prose, poetry), public address (informative and persuasive), limited prep events and several platform speeches. The forensics team enables students to not only improve their speaking skills but also develop a stronger understanding of the communication field as a whole.