Forensics team boards the bus to Columbus

Photographer: Ben Siegel


First lady Deborah McDavis speaks with Forensic Team members while waiting on the bus to leave for Columbus

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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Forensics team honored at Ohio House of Representatives

Ohio University's Forensics Team, the Speaking Bobcats, were formally recognized for their oratorical prowess on Wednesday by one of the state's largest debating entities – the Ohio House of Representatives.

Rep. Debbie Phillips (D) joined other representatives in honoring the Speaking Bobcats at the state Capitol for recently winning the title of Debate Sweepstakes and Individual Events Sweepstakes State Champions at the Ohio Forensics Association State Championship Tournament.

"Although Rep. Phillips has sent us resolutions when we've won state [titles] before, her aide called me and said Rep. Phillips wants [us] at the state House because we won the state tournament five years in a row and nationals on the heels of that," said Head Coach Dan West.

West, who is the John. A Cassese Director of Forensics and is in his seventh year as coach, explained that the team did not realize at first the gravity and importance of Phillips' invitation.

"They were stunned when I told them, because it didn't quite sink in how important of an event this is," stated West. "There aren't a lot of college students that get invited to be honored by the entire assembly of the State of Representatives in any year. And, for all 17 team members and four coaches to be personally thanked for our hard work and representing OHIO nationally is really cool."

The Speaking Bobcats' top persuasive speaker, Jamie Zipfel, compared the honor to winning the National Individual Events Championship.

"Let me tell you, watching an audience of 800 people stand up and applaud the work I do, and the work our team does, gives me so much pride. It's a sense of joy unlike any other – the recognition that other people realize and appreciate the work I've done, and the work we've done, for the past three years, is beautiful," she stated.

Other prominent state politicians also recognized the team's sustained success. Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor further congratulated the Speaking Bobcats for earning this distinct recognition.

"Your team's success at the competition reflects the many months of hard work and personal commitment [each member has] demonstrated in preparation for the contest," she said.

Wins at both the state and national level and the state assembly's recognition of the team's personal achievements has made this a milestone season for the Speaking Bobcats, according to West.

"To understand what you mean to a school and to the entire state is a really nice perspective to gain – it shows what you do matters to so many people," he said.

First Lady Deborah McDavis, Scripps College of Communication interim Dean Scott Titsworth, and interim Communications Studies Director Jerry Miller also traveled to Columbus with the team to represent Ohio University and to show their support.

"Many schools do not have the luxury of the support that our department and this University gives us," said Zipfel, who will represent OHIO at the Interstate Oratorical Association National Tournament in Boston next month.

This year, the Speaking Bobcats were named National Champions of the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament, and picked up 62 awards, including nine individual national titles. West now has his sights set on winning Speech Nationals, which will take place in April.