BU speech team continues legacy with 40th national title

The Bradley University Speech Team continued its dominance of collegiate speech by returning from the American Forensics Association tournament as national speech champions last weekend, but one student in particular amazed the team.

Junior theatre arts major Kaybee Brown was one of the numerous speech team members who had award-winning performances over the weekend. He was named national champion in prose interpretation, dramatic interpretation and duo interpretation with senior political science major Cecil Blutcher. He also placed fifth in poetry interpretation.

“To win three events is mind blowing,” said Ken Young, director of forensics and first-year coach. “Think of it as winning the Triple Crown in baseball or horseracing; it is very rare.”

Brown, who is a first-year member of the Bradley Speech Team after transferring from Lone Star College-North Harris, spoke of the team’s accomplishment in general.

“Winning the 40th [speech championship in Bradley speech team history] was a huge accomplishment that many other teams didn’t believe we could achieve, and we aren’t finished yet,” Brown said.

Both Brown and Young emphasized the time commitment of being on the speech team, comparing it to being on a sports team. When most students were departing Peoria for summer break in 2012, speech team members began preparing for the 2013 season.

Since that time, members have worked seven days a week with coaches, alumni and each other perfecting their performances.

“We are balancing our academics, social lives, jobs, families and whatever else we choose to do along with speech, but it is always worth it in the end,” Brown said.

Despite Brown’s dominant individual performances, Young praised Brown for never letting success get to his head and always striving to learn more.

“I want performing to be my career… but I don’t want to be famous. Fame isn’t what it used to be,” Brown said. “I want to be successful.”

At last weekend’s ASA tournament in Kansas, the entire speech team earned a total of 659 points, putting Bradley well above Western Kentucky University, which finished second with 488 points. The latest victory was Bradley’s 40th national speech championship and 22nd AFA title since 1980.

Young said he especially liked to see the program succeed because of his participation as an undergrad.

“As an alum of the speech program, it means the world to continue the tradition of excellence set by those who have come before me,” he said. “This is a chance to reaffirm the skills these students are learning.”

Six other Bradley speech team members ranked with Brown in the individual sweepstakes, which is calculated by students who score the most points in at least four events.

This included senior philosophy major Jacoby Cochran, who was named national champion.

The Bradley University Speech Team will look to defend its title as national champions next week at the National Forensic Association Championship Tournament at Marshall University. Unlike the AFA tournament, which limits the number of entries, the NFA tournament allows for a greater number of total speech entries, allowing for the team to compete in its entirety.

“This team is my family, and I’m honored to walk alongside them,” Brown said. “At NFA, we compete as a whole, a family, and that means the world to me.”