Emma Stoltzfus — Staff Writer
Forensics: studying dead bodies from crime scenes or giving speeches and debating competitively?
The eight Dordt students who attended a national forensics tournament over Spring break understand that forensics in this case refers to competitive speech and debate.
The National Christian Colleges Forensics League (NCCFL) tournament was held at Azusa Pacific University near Los Angeles. Around 18 Christian colleges from around the country had teams attending the tournament.
Representatives of Dordt’s forensics team included Ben Kuiper, Bethany Van Eps, Emma Stoltzfus, Joshua Dorsett, Matthew Ojo, Michel Gomes and Tony Zou. They were accompanied by their coach Professor Bruce Kuiper.
Because the tournament was hosted in California, the eight-member team left on Wednesday afternoon before break—missing two days of classes—and flew a two-legged trip to LAX.
They arrived in California minus one checked bag, which happened to contain most of the suits and toiletries.
The team arrived at the house they rented armed with pop tarts and lucky charms for early breakfasts. The rental’s WiFi was labeled “DADBAE” and lent its name as a source of humor and usernames to a few games of Jackbox—an online trivia game that is a traditional pass time of Dordt’s forensics program—throughout the trip.
Due to misplaced suitcase several members of the team were forced to dress down from suits to collared shirts and slacks.
Then commenced three days packed with giving, listening to and preparing for speeches and debates. Spare hours here and there were composed of trips to the on-campus Starbucks and playing Jackbox.
The first day started off with Ben Kuiper drinking milk with his breakfast out of a large wineglass. Once the wayward suitcase was returned, the entire team was able to dress professionally.
On one day, the team was able to take a quick lunch catered by In-n-Out in between rounds—courtesy of Azusa Pacific.
After a full day of speeches on Friday, the team split off for an evening out and about Los Angeles. Several members of the team visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame and checked out various celebrity’s stars. Van Eps and Stoltzfus were approached by representatives from the Church of Scientology to “watch a film”.
On the drive back, they got lost in the hills of Hollywood trying to both see the famous sign and returned to the rental house.
The NCCFL made a big push for school spirit within the tournament and had an ongoing competition comprised of human bingo, heads up, and other teamwork-oriented games. At one point, a student put on a panda onesie and danced as the animated character “Po” to the song Kung Fu Fighting.
Dordt tied for fourth or fifth in the spirit competition, which awarded a small painted figurine to the most spirited team.
During the competition, there were a few slipups and in the IE speeches a couple team members forgot their intros or accidently remained seated while giving their speeches.
Zou reached the semi-finals for impromptu speaking, Van Eps received second place in novice prose and an overall debate speaker point’s award for the team as a whole.
The awards ceremony and dinner included three hours of standing, sitting, and clapping as the winners of each round were handed plaques from three large tables.
Towards the end, the graduating seniors who were competing for the last year were asked to stand and be recognized. This included Dordt’s own Ben Kuiper and Michel Gomes.
The next morning after a few hours of sleep further shortened by daylight savings time, the Dordt Forensics team members each flew their separate ways for the remainder of spring break.