Forensics frenzy

The word “forensics” usually brings thoughts of dead bodies, surgical gloves and police tape to mind. However, Northern Kentucky University’s speech team wants to change that image.

Forensics, as it relates to the speech team, is an adjective meaning relating to formal debate. And it seems that the team is quite good.

The Norators, the campus team, came home from the Oct. 20 Owensboro tournament with all six competing members earning awards.

“Our novices beat veterans,” Michael Monks, president of the team, said of its newest members.

Normally, novices compete against other newer members. All six winners qualified to compete in the national tournament. NKU’s team participates in the Kentucky Forensics Association against 12 other colleges. One competitor is Western Kentucky University, considered the best in the state.

After the Norators’ first tournament at Western, Dr. Robert Jones, KFA president and communications professor, said, “We enjoyed the tournament and learned a lot!”

Each team member prepares one piece at the beginning of the year to use in all tournaments, which are held on the weekends. Team members must be able to travel to the tournaments.

Jennifer Heil, novice member, said the travel is the only drawback of participating. However, she still considers it a good experience.

The team competes in individual events, which fall under two broad categories. The first category is public speaking. This includes informative, persuasive, impromptu and after-dinner speaking. Monks placed first in impromptu speaking at Owensboro. In impromptu, the contestants are given a quote and then have seven minutes to prepare and give the speech.

Curtiss Belew, a novice, placed fourth in after-dinner speaking. In this event, speakers make a serious point using humor.

“Belew was the highest scoring novice at the tournament, earning a ninth place in the Pentathlon [5 or more events], which is a very rare accomplishment!” Jones said.

The other category is interpretative events, which includes prose, drama, and poetry. The team won four awards in this category including dramatic duo interpretation, won by Monks and Angela Kroger.

“The team has been active for almost as long as NKU has existed,” Jones said, “and we have a room full of trophies to demonstrate our success over the years.”

The Norators will host the KFA tournament in February.

“We are interested in any faculty members who would be willing to judge at the tournament or help in many other ways,” Jones said.

Undergraduate students in all majors are able to join the speech team. For more information, visit the Norators’ web site at