Student Success: Speech and Debate Team

Written by Michael Alfele

This year’s School of Communication Speech and Debate team capped off a successful season with a winning performance at the National Championship in April.

The team was led by Dr. Avery Henry, Director of Forensics at the School of Communication. Under his guidance, the team amassed ten individual awards and secured eight spots for students in the National Championship.

The team began the season attending the Washburn Warm-up where Sebastian Glos placed as a quarterfinalist. In September, Joshua Powell secured second place in After Dinner Speaking and third place in Informative Speaking at the University of West Florida tournament.

Throughout November and December, Harleigh Demchak and Jack Merkel placed as quarterfinalists at tournaments hosted by Missouri State University and Illinois State University, respectively. The team also hosted a tournament, in collaboration with Western Kentucky University, where three FSU students, Taylor Kaminsky, Zoey Rotenberry and Blake Boles, earned spots in the semifinals of their corresponding divisions.

Their spring semester began with a victory at the State Forensics tournament in February, where they were crowned State Champions in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Shortly after, Webster University hosted a tournament in St. Louis where Sebastian Glos distinguished himself as a quarterfinalist.

Upon their recent return from the National Championship, the team brought home more accolades and notable achievements. Highlights include Harleigh Demchak and Jack Merkel’s performances as Double Octa-finalist and Octa-finalist, respectively, and Taylor Kaminsky’s Novice Semi-finalist placement. The team’s overall performance secured them sixth place in the Team Debate Sweepstakes, cementing FSU’s status as a force within collegiate debate.

“This year can only be described as an incredible success. I am so proud of everything the team accomplished and am looking forward to seeing what they will do next season,” Henry said.

As the academic year draws to a close, the School of Communication celebrates the achievements of the Speech and Debate team, commemorating all their accomplishments and wishing them continued success.