Speech and debate team has national champion, scores high in national tournament

Showing off their trophies from the Pi Kappa Delta tournament held at Hofstra University, from left, are Tennessee Tech Speech and debate Team members Sarah Stansbury, Madison (Mik) Davis and Sistina Hammonds.

COOKEVILLE –  Tennessee Tech’s Speech and Debate team has established a national prominence the past two seasons. Madison (Mik) Davis earned a second national championship while several other students enjoyed a great deal of success recently at Hofstra University in the Pi Kappa Delta national tournament.

Davis, a junior political science and journalism major from Hendersonville, was named the national champion speaker in junior varsity IPDA debate for the second year in a row.

Sistina Hammonds, a freshman biology major, and Sarah Stansbury, a sophomore criminal justice major, were named semifinalists in novice NPDA debate, while fellow team member Abby Norsworthy won an excellence award in after dinner speaking and Amanda Smith won excellence awards in impromptu speaking and program of oral interpretation.

Those awards put them among the top 30 percent of competitors in the nation in those events.

“Our award of semifinalist at a national convention not only highlights our individual success, but also our success as a team,” Stansbury said. “It means so much to me to win this award. NPDA debate, in my opinion, is the easiest form to learn, but also the hardest to actually compete in because of all the technical arguments that can happen. Because of this, the fact that Sistina and I were able to break and be successful is something that I am very proud of. I hope we can continue to be successful as long as we are on the team!”

The team also won an excellence award in debate sweepstakes, which puts it in the top 30 percent of all debate squads in the nation.

“Being a back-to-back champion, for me, was really more about recognition for the team and for the program,” Davis said. “I didn’t teach myself to debate and I wouldn’t be here without my coaches, Dr. Graham Kash, Mr. Jacob Metz and Mr. Kevin Bryant. The trophy has my name on it, but the award really belongs to the team.”

Speech events at the tournament included informative and persuasive speaking, impromptu speaking and extemporaneous speaking. Forensics also include interpretive events like dramatic interpretation, programmed oral interpretation and after dinner speaking where students exhibit acting and comedic skills.

Debate formats Tennessee Tech competed in included parliamentary debate, which is two-versus two debate with a 15 minute prep time on a topic on current events, and International Public Debate, which is one on one debate with a 30 minute prep time on current events, philosophy or pop culture.

“I am exceptionally proud of what our students were able to accomplish at the PKD National Tournament,” said Metz, assistant speech and debate coach. “Our team learned a lot from the experience and grew tremendously in our time there.”

Davis said winning the national title two years in a row means the team can advocate for more funding to travel farther and more often.

“In a lot of ways, I felt like I was competing for the future of the entire team and I was just relieved to have achieved the goal I set for myself,” she said.

Pi Kappa Delta is among one of the oldest forensics organizations in the United States. The Tennessee Tech Speech and Debate Team is the oldest Pi Kappa Delta member in the state of Tennessee. The team was founded in 1921 and incorporated as a member of Pi Kappa Delta in 1930 by history professor and coach Herman Pinkerton. Notable alumni of the team include Louis Johnson, former dean of the College of Business and namesake of Johnson Hall; and community leaders like Rotarian Bob Luna and lawyer Ed Sadler. 

The team currently has a roster of 11 students who compete in three forms of debate and numerous public speaking events across the country.

Over the next month, there are three more national competitions that the team will be participating in.

The Tennessee Tech Speech and Debate team members at the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament.

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