Talking their way into success, three members of the California State University, Dominguez Hills Toro Forensics team won five first and second place awards at the 2012 Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association (PSCFA) Cool-Off Tournament on April 28-29 at Saddleback College.
Wowing the judges at the speech and oral presentation competition, Teela Caldwell, a student in the business and public administration master’s program, and Catalina Cook, a senior theatre major with a dance emphasis, took first place in the duo dramatic interpretation category for their performance of a scene from the play “The Next Mrs. Jacob Anderson,” by Ann Wuehler.
Cook also competed individually and won in the poetry interpretation category, reading a collection of poems from the book “Runaways,” by Elizabeth Swados, which also won her a standing ovation later at the tournament’s awards assembly.
In the informative speaking category, Nick Grewal, a senior majoring in physics, took second place with a thought-provoking speech he crafted and presented on the dangers of thermal nuclear weapons in the world today.
Only students with little or no forensics competition experience were eligible to participate in the Cool-Off Tournament, giving them the chance to compete with students of the same level from 20 other two and four-year colleges and universities from throughout Southern California in 14 categories, including extemporaneous, impromptu, persuasive, and prose, to name a few.
Caldwell, who plans to pursue a career in acting, saw the tournament as an opportunity to receive feedback from judges that will help her to hone her oratory skills. She appreciated learning what she was doing correctly and in what areas she could improve.
“The best way to learn is to get feedback,” said Caldwell. “An experience like this helps with debate and public speaking skills, how to communicate ideas and thoughts, and it builds confidence. I believe anytime you’re in front of an audience, it helps you get better.”
To prepare themselves for this competition, the students spent several hours practicing on their own in addition to team rehearsals, according to Donis Leonard, associate professor of theatre arts, who has served as director of the Toro Forensics team since 1998.
“I’m very confident that those extra hours they devoted to the craft, made all the difference during the final rounds at the tournament,” said Leonard.
Narrowly missing first place, Leonard – himself a past two-time national Forensics champion -took second place in the competition’s sweepstakes category, which recognized excellence among team coaches from participating four-year institutions. But he remained focused on the performance of his students, saying, “A good coach can only lead a team so far.”
“This is one of the most gifted group of competitors that I’ve had on our forensics team in many years,” Leonard continued. “CSU Dominguez Hills students demonstrate once again, that they are among the best and the brightest in the CSU system and in the state of California.
Founded in 1982 by emeritus professor of theatre arts Sydell Weiner, the CSU Dominguez Hills Toro Forensics team has had members compete locally, statewide, and nationally over the last decade.
Students interested in developing forensics oratory and competition skills may enroll in oral interpretation of literature (THE-322), offered next in the fall 2012 semester.
For more information and to join the forensics team, contact Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org.