Whitman College Forensics Newsletter

A Newsletter of the Whitman College Forensics Team, Vol. 2, No. 1, Dec. 1995

Wow! Jim returns from WWU and Col. Basin awards show 1st place!

After a long drive back from the Western Washington University scrimmage, Jim went tiredly to his office. What he found there woke him up--a huge stack of trophies on his desk. The trophies were the work of the Parliamentary debaters and Individual Events competitors at the Columbia Basin Tournament. Including several first place awards-the team took First Place in Sweepstakes at the tournament. Coupled with the team's very strong showing at Western Washington University (second and sixth place teams!), the weekend was very successful.

Whitman College Forensics offers a diversity of opportunities

Whitman College is one of the few Northwest programs to compete in all three areas of contemporary forensics. The team competes in CEDA Debate, Parliamentary Debate, and Individual Events. CEDA (Cross-Examination Debate Association) Debate involves competition between two, two-person teams. It is very research intensive and now focuses on debates about American policy. Parliamentary Debate has two, two person teams compete against each other on a topic that is announced fifteen minutes prior to the beginning of the debate. Emphasizing quick thinking, strong communication skills, and broad background, Parliamentary Debate is a natural for Whitman's liberal arts education. Individual Events covers eleven National Individual Events Tournament speaking categories including five kinds of interpretation, extemporaneous, impromptu, persuasive, informative speaking, and after dinner speaking (somewhat like a standup comedy routine) and communication analysis (where the speaker analyzes a contemporary communication like a Presidential speech or a popular commercial advertisement. The team was successful in each of these three areas this semester. Whitman traveled to four area tournaments and one tournament out of region. As you can imagine, with such a large and competitive group of competitors, Whitman is a highly-respected team both within the Northwest and on the national circuit.

Sean Harris and Andy Backlund toast the camera-and, of course, those are soft drinks!

High School Tournament

Highly respected, the Whitman College High School Speech Tournament is now one of the largest in the Northwest. Over fifty squads attended this year including over 150 policy debate teams, 150 Lincoln-Douglas debaters, and 400 individual event entrants. Jim also proudly announced that the tournament was also now a Tournament of Champions qualifier tournament-awarded to only a select group of tournaments throughout the country.

CEDA Competitors Continue Success

In CEDA debate, we have three senior and two junior teams: Sean Harris and Steve Rowe, Adam Symonds and Andy Backlund, and Matt Johnson and Erin Carlson make up the fall senior teams. Our two junior teams are Andy Nachtigal and Isaac Kamola, and Christina Biluk and Amy Lechner.

Steve Rowe and Sean Harris have had an extremely successful record, breaking into the elimination rounds at every tournament they have attended. Steve is one of the senior members of the debate team, having competed for four years at Whitman. He is debating with Sean Harris, who is competing for his second year. At the Western Washington's warm-up tournament, they went 6-1 and took second place overall. Steve was the third speaker and Sean was the second speaker at the tournament. At Lewis and Clark, they continued their winning record with a 4-2 record in the preliminary rounds. They lost in octafinals on a split decision. Outside the region at the San Diego State tournament the two also went 4-2, but this time they advanced to the quarterfinal round. Again, they walked away with twin speaker awards; Steve was the eleventh speaker while Sean was tenth. At Linfield, they again went 4-2 and won two elimination rounds to take second place at the tournament. Sean was the sixth speaker at Linfield, while Steve was the top speaker in senior division by a significant margin.

Andy Backlund is also a senior member of the squad, finishing up his fourth year on the team. His partner, Adam Symonds is a first year student and even though Andy uses his seniority to assign Adam all the grunt work, Adam manages to maintain a positive attitude. At WWU, Adam and Andy went 5-2 and finished in sixth place. Adam was honored for his eighth place speaker award. At Lewis and Clark, the two did not advance to elims, but broke even with a 3-3 record. However, they came back in a big way, going 5-1 at SDSU and dropping in the semi-final round. Soon after this, they were nominated to be in the prestigious Top-10 teams in the nation list. At Linfield they again had a 5-1 record, losing in the quarter-final round on a split decision. Adam was also the seventh speaker at the tournament. It is interesting to note that both Steve and Sean and Adam and Andy B. both won 72% of their preliminary rounds.

Erin Carlson is competing for her second year at Whitman and is debating with Matt Johnson, a first year student from Kentridge High School. They have been competing in open division all semester. At WWU the two went 4-3 in the preliminary rounds and barely missed breaking into elims. At both Lewis and Clark and Linfield they did not fare as well-but they are improving steadily. Give them time and they will be among the Northwest's finest.

Not only does Whitman have three excellent open teams, we also have some very talented junior teams. Andy Nachtigal and Isaac Kamola join us here at Whitman for their debut in intercollegiate debate. Both have high school experience, Andy in cross-examination debate and Isaac in Lincoln-Douglas debate. At Lewis and Clark, the pair went 4-2 in prelims and won their octafinal round. They lost in quarterfinals on a split decision. At Linfield they again went 4-2, winning their first outround and losing in semifinals. Andy was also the second speaker.

Christina Biluk and Amy Lechner both join us in their first year at Whitman. Amy comes with Lincoln-Douglas debate experience while Christina is new to the debate world (though, she was turning out open-level research midway through her first semester!). Christina and Amy went 3-4 at the WWU warm-up-- an achievement, considering they were in the same division as many of the top open teams. At Lewis and Clark, in junior division, they advanced to the elimination rounds, won their first outround, and lost in quarterfinals. Amy also received an award for being the eighth speaker. At Linfield, they did not fare as well-but, they are certainly headed for great success in the future.

Steve Rowe and Adam Symonds take a "hack" break dressed as Fish-while we visited Tiajuana, Mexico during the San Diego State trip.

Parliamentary Debaters are Persuasive

Our Parliamentary debaters include a large group of involved and hard working students: David Kearney, Jessie Sherwood, Kristofer Peterson, Dave Perry, Tim Clairmont, Dawn MacDonald, Anea Bergen-Barer, Ashley Gelvin, James Kuwahara, and Evan Bartlett.

David Kearney is one of our experienced parliamentary debaters. Although he debated most of the season with Jessie Sherwood, another of our experienced parliamentary debaters, at the Columbia Basin tournament he debated with Kristofer Peterson. They were highly successful, going 4-1 in prelims and winning the tournament. Not only did they take first place as a team, they won individual speaker awards as well, with David as the second speaker and Kristofer as the first speaker. At Lewis and Clark, David and Jessie paired up to go 4-2 in prelims and took ninth place, losing a tough round in octa-finals. David was also recognized as the top speaker in open division-quite an honor given that there were over 75 speakers in his division. At Linfield, David and Jessie advanced to the elimination rounds, where they lost in octa-finals, placing ninth.

Ashley Gelvin and James Kuwahara are both new to the team, but had a very competitive season. At the Columbia Basin (which only offers one division) they won two out of five rounds. Competing in novice division at Lewis and Clark they went 5-1 and took third place overall. At Linfield, James debated with Lea Rees, who is another newcomer, and the two competed in novice division. They went 4-2, won their quarterfinals round 3-0, their semi-finals round 3-0 before losing a heart wrenching 2-1 decision in the finals round-leaving them with a second place debate trophy. Lea won an eighth place speaker award and James won a fourth place speaker award. Lea had competed with Jason Smith, a second-year veteran of the team at previous tournaments. . Despite their newness to the activity, the two took second place at the Columbia Basin tournament.

Dave Perry and Tim Clairmont are in their second year as members of the Whitman team. Dave won a third place speaker award at the Columbia Basin tournament.

Dawn Mac Donald is new to parliamentary debate, although she did come with high school debate experience. She is debating with Anea Bergen-Barer who not only competes in parliamentary debate, but also is proficient at various New York and Cockney accents. At Linfield, Anea Bergen-Barer competed with Even Bartlet-but did not advance. In parliamentary debate, unlike CEDA debate, low-point wins are not permitted. On several of Anea and Even's ballots the judges did not realize this, nor did the tournament catch it. Had the ballots been correct, the two would have advanced into the elimination rounds, because both of them won speaker awards. Evan was sixth speaker, and Anea was the second speaker at the tournament.

Jim and Natalie smile at the team's successes.

Individual Events Competitors Do Well

Matt Vandenburg, Kelly Phipps and Shannon Henderson are the team's specialists in individual events. They compete in a wide variety of individual events, the public speaking component of the team. This is in addition to the many debaters who also give individual presentations. Matt Vandenburg is a second-year member of the team and is affectionately nicknamed "Mouse". He competes in impromptu and after-dinner speaking. Kelly Phipps, a first year student who competed in senior division at Columbia Basin, won two events-- she took first place in senior impromptu as well as first place in senior oral interpretation. Shannon Henderson comes to Whitman from sunny Hawaii. At Lewis and Clark, she was a finalist in senior After-Dinner Speaking, earning a qualifying leg to the National Individual Events Tournament. She also was a finalist in junior prose.

As noted previously, these three Individual Events specialists are complimented by many of our Parliamentary and CEDA debaters who also compete in individual events. At the Columbia Basin tournament, Anea and Dawn took first place in senior division Duo Interpretation. Dawn also took first place in junior Dramatic Interpretation, while Anea took third place in senior Oral Interpretation. At Lewis and Clark, James Kuwahara was a finalist in novice Impromptu and Dawn took first place in junior Dramatic Interpretation. Finally, at Linfield, James took second place in junior After-Dinner Speaking and Adam Symonds took second place in junior Extemporaneous Speaking. Overall, this young group of competitors did quite well and they are looking forward to spring semester competition!

Intramural Debate Continues

Intramural Debate at Whitman continues to grow as a speaking opportunity for students throughout campus who don't have time for the intensive commitment required to be on the team. This fall's competition featured over 20 participants. Erin Carlson, the Intramural Debate Coordinator, for the fall semester ran the tournament. Since her time commitments were full, Kerrie Leitch took over the position in December. We welcome Kerrie who brings a graphics artist background to the position-so, we're looking for great looking Intramural Debate posters this coming semester.

The competition was tough in the contest. Joel Nelson and Jon Brown and Greg Schnorr (the Spring 1995 first place winner) and Gabe Schroeder were the third place winners. Taking second place was Ryan Cooper and Trevor Rasmussen-who surprised everyone with their strong argumentation skills given their only debating experience was being in Jim's Speech 110 course on the Fundamentals of Public Address. Taking first place and winning the Fall 1995 tournament, were Derek Banducci and John Sawyer. Derek liked the experience so much-he's joining the team this next semester. Congratulations to all of these students!

Intramural Coordinators

Erin Carlson served as the Intramural Debate Coordinator for the fall. She is strong organizer as well as an accomplished debater. Coming from Couer 'd Alene High School and a Lincoln-Douglas debate background, she and her partner won first place at the Gonzaga Debate tournament and she competed successfully this fall as well.

Kerrie Leitch is the new Intramural Debate Coordinator. She brings a wealth of experience in individual events to the team. Her graphics background make her a natural for promoting Intramural Debate. She competed in high school in individual events and competed on the Whitman team during her first and third years at Whitman. She is also extremely organized (a vital quality when working with Jim!) and makes a great addition to the Coaching Staff.

Natalie, Sean, Erin, and Kevin (a debater at Oregon and close friend of Natalie's!) enjoy good times. The M stands for the mural in Intramural Debate.

The 1995-1996 Coaching Staff

Not only does Whitman College have a top- notch set of forensic competitors, we also boast one of the finest coaching staffs around.

Jim Hanson is currently the Director of Forensics at Whitman. Jim manages to dedicate numerous hours to perfecting the speaking and researching skills of competitors, even as he teaches classes, works on completing his dissertation, and is active in the High School debate world by teaching seminars and authoring handbooks of debate evidence. Himself a quarterfinalist at the CEDA national tournament, Jim has coached many successful debate teams. Jim's busy schedule was interrupted this winter by an ungainly fall on the ice outside of Olin Hall. He broke his ankle in three places. Recently his cast was removed and replaced with a walking cast, so he is up and about once again.

Natalie Yarwood serves as the new Assistant Director of Forensics. She comes to Whitman from Western Washington University where she competed in CEDA debate as well as individual events for three years. Her accomplishments include graduating from WWU magna cum laude, winning two regional debate tournaments, debating in the quarterfinal round of the prestigious Heart of America tournament, and receiving an award for being the 18th speaker at the national debate championships. She is also active in promoting womyn's rights within the debate world.

Loan Lam is the student assistant for the team this year. In addition to her class schedule, Loan is Jim's highly valued personal assistant. Her organizational skills and quick mind keep Jim in some semblance of order. A successful competitor herself, in both debate and individual events, Loan is responsible for parliamentary research assignments, scheduling practice sessions, and copying all research briefs, as well as coaching and staff duties. Loan is majoring in sociology and is working on her thesis.

Jared Phillips is also a valuable member of the coaching staff. He is working for Whitman College in the Alumni Office, yet he finds time to help out with the team. He competed for four years in college, including his last two on the Whitman team. He was the seventh speaker at the Northwest CEDA Championship, was in elimination rounds at every tournament he attended as a senior, and placed in the top 33 teams in the nation at CEDA Nationals. He not only coaches and makes staff decisions, but he also helps teams research. With the help of some of the evidence he found, one of our open CEDA teams won a round at the Christmas Swing tournament in California.

Jennifer Becker is the final member of the coaching staff. Although she works in the Admissions Office and is often traveling to High Schools to inform them about Whitman College, she donates her available time to the team. Jenn graduated with honors in 1994 from the Whitman politics department. She was an excellent debater, placing fifth at the CEDA national tournament in her junior year, was ranked in the top 18 teams in the nation by the Power Rankings Point System, and won over ten tournaments during her career. She was also the 20th speaker at the national tournament in her senior year, as well as a two time All-American Debater. Jenn is currently applying to graduate schools that offer programs in postmodern feminist politics.

Jim expresses his enthusiasm about the coaching staff as he waves seaweed in the air.

We encourage you to send messages to the Whitman Forensics Team.

Write to Jim Hanson
Director of Forensics
Whitman College
Walla Walla WA 99362


We've heard from a number of our alumni and friends including:


We'd like to share stories! Just send a short paragraph with a story about an experience you had while on the team, in a speech class, etc. We'll include the stories in the next newsletter! DON'T BE SHY-This will be fun! Send your story to Director Jim Hanson, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington 99362; hansonjb@whitman.edu; fax: 509-527-5039.

Speech and Debate Reunion-Plan for it!

Attention Speech and Debate Alumni! September 27-29, 1996 is the Homecoming Weekend and first-ever Speech and Debate Reunion. The Reunion is open to all alumni who competed on the team, did intramural debate, were part of the discussion groups on campus, took courses in the speech department, or who just have an interest in the speech program. The weekend should provide entertainment, conversation, and intellectual exploration, all geared around celebrating the art of speech and the forensics team. The weekend tentatively will include several debate rounds, lectures, a mock presidential election, a picnic dinner, and panel discussions. Child care will be available. Come one, come all-we'd love to meet you and hear stories about your experiences on the team!

Natalie kisses her prized Pinata from Mexico.

Coaching Staff

Director of Forensics James Hanson

Assistant Director of Forensics Natalie Yarwood

Assistant Director of Debate Jennifer Becker

Assistant Director of Debate Jared Phillips

Student Assistant Director of Debate, Loan Lam

Intramural Debate Coordinator, Kerrie Leitch

On Sabattical, Department of Speech Robert M. Withycombe

President, Whitman College Thomas E. Cronin

Competitors, Whitman Forensics

Fall 1995

Adam Symonds, Amy Lechner, Andy Backlund, Andy Nachtigal, Anea Bergen Barer, Ashley Gelvin, Christina Biluk, David Kearney , David Perry, Dawn Mac Donald, Derek Banducci, Erin Carlson, Evan Bartlett, Isaac Kamola, James Kuwahara, Jason Smith, Jessie Sherwood, Karen Skantze , Kelly Phipps, Kristofer Peterson, Lara Clark, Lea (Erin) Rees, Matt Johnson, Matt Vanderburg, PJ Van Hulle, Sean Harris, Shannon Henderson, Steve Rowe, Tim Clairmont

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