UNC Charlotte Speech Team Places Third In National Competition

UNC Charlotte’s speech team won third place at the Novice National Championship Forensics Tournament in early March at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. The award recognizes the top novice competitors from across the country in competitive public speaking, debate, and interpretation of literature.

The Novice National Championship Forensics Tournament is an undergraduate event that advances forensic education for first-year competitors.

“I used to shake at the mere thought of giving a presentation in class, and now I have championed at a national speech competition,” said AJ Siegel, a sophomore psychology and writing, rhetoric, and digital studies major. “The writing, speaking, and overall communication skills I’m learning are invaluable and will be carried with me for the rest of my life. This team has not only helped me become a better and more confident speaker but has also created a sense of community that I only dreamed of finding at Charlotte.”

Shelby Newland, who is pursuing a master’s degree in communication studies, coaches the team. “From a coaching perspective, placing at Novice Nationals is a good sign you’ve got a team with some raw talent,” Newland said. “I’m not sure these students have a clue how good they’ll get by the time they graduate. This is only the start.”

The eight students representing UNC Charlotte won awards in nine events:

  • AJ Seigel, who is majoring in psychology and in writing, rhetoric, and digital studies, won first place in rhetorical criticism and placed fifth in dramatic interpretation and second in after-dinner speaking.
  • Political science major Acadia Dubiel placed third in informative speaking and sixth in extemporaneous speaking.
  • Matt Baldi, a criminal justice and criminology major, won second place in extemporaneous speaking and third in public narrative.
  • Pre-biology major Denise Soriano won fourth in persuasive speaking.
  • Early education major Elise Bagley won second in informative speaking.
  • Early education major Kristyn Christopher won fourth in dramatic interpretation.
  • Arin McCormack, an international studies major, placed in third in prose interpretation and fifth in slam poetry.

Nance Riffe, a lecturer in the Communication Studies Department, is director of the forensics team.