Speech Team Places in Top 20 In National Tournament

For the first time ever, UNC Charlotte’s speech team has placed in the top 20 in a national speech tournament, competing against over 150 teams from across the nation in the National Forensic Association’s championship tournament held in Santa Ana, California April 18-22.

“For any team, this is a major success,” says Jason Edward Black, chair of the Department of Communication Studies. “For a small, revamped team with all novice competitors, this is even bigger. For a team to compete at this caliber with a new director of forensics is absolutely magnificent and is a testament to Nance Riffe’s leadership and care. #QueenCitySpeech was the talk of the tournament.”

The team placed 19th in the Limited Entry Sweepstakes. In individual awards, Misty Morin placed sixth in the National Novice Final Rounds of Impromptu Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation. Sam Darwin placed second in the National Final Rounds of Prose Interpretation and Dramatic Interpretation. Graduate student Tanya Melendez assisted Riffe in preparing the team for the competition.

Celebrating the team’s successes are Misty Morin (from left), Nance Riffe, Tanya Melendez and Sam Darwin.
Celebrating the team’s successes are Misty Morin (from left), Nance Riffe, Tanya Melendez and Sam Darwin.

The NFA sponsors the national championship tournament annually for both individual event speaking and Lincoln-Douglas debate, and normally covers four to five days. The tournament features prose, poetry, extemporaneous, impromptu, after-dinner speaking, and oratory competitive rounds.

At UNC Charlotte, the speech team has gained a new faculty director in Riffe, who teaches rhetoric and public speaking along with coaching the speech team. “I am thrilled to be back in the classroom, where I try to make each student feel heard and supported,” Riffe says.

Prior to directing the speech team at UNC Charlotte, Riffe coached and competed for three of the nation’s top speech programs. She coached at the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Austin – both consistently among the top five programs nationally. She competed at George Mason University, where she earned first place in individual sweepstakes at nationals by placing in the final rounds of five events – the first person in the tournament’s history to achieve this goal.

Pictured, top image: Misty Morin (left) and Sam Darwin take home awards in national speech tournament.

Words: Whitney Pittman, CLAS Student Intern | Images: Courtesy of Nance Riffe