Speech team finishes season with national championship

The Bradley Speech Team was crowned victors at the 2012 National Forensic Association championship title, finishing the season undefeated.

The team also won the American Forensic Association national championship just weeks prior to the NFA tournament, marking the first time since 1998 the team has won both national titles. The team scored 608.5 points at the NFA to beat second place Western Kentucky University by 19.5 points. The NFA tournament was held at Ohio University from last Thursday to Monday.

Junior Jacoby Cochran won five individual titles between both national tournaments, including being named top speaker at both.

“It felt humbling to win a national title as always,” he said. “To be recognized as the best in any category is exciting and very rewarding.”

Six Bradley team members placed in the top twenty in individual championships and three students won national individual championship titles, including junior Cecil Blutcher as national champion in poetry and Cochran as national champion in rhetorical criticism.

Senior and president of the speech team Camille Yameen won the national champion for prose interpretation, an event where participants turn a novel or short story into a ten minute performance. Yameen chose a short story by Amy Bloom called “A Portion of Your Loveliness.”

“Winning an individual title is perhaps the most humbling experience I have had while being on the team,” Yameen said. “The individual titles are extremely prestigious, because not everyone can win one – that’s just the nature of the beast of this competitive activity. So to win is an extreme honor; there are truly no words to describe it adequately.”

Team coaches are Director of Forensics Dan Smith and Assistant Director of Forensics Michael Chen. Smith, who will be leaving the position of coach after this school year, said the team stayed cool despite pressure to win both national championships in 2012.

“I’m incredibly proud of all of the hard work they’ve done,” he said. “It’s been 14 years since we were able to win [both titles], and it was a lot of pressure. You either respond to it or let it break you. But the team was determined to use the pressure to push them.”

Cochran said his individual wins came from the help of his team.

“Despite being recognized for our individual accolades, I speak for the others when I say this was a team effort and every speaker and round mattered,” he said. “I would never want the attention to sway from the group effort it took to accomplish this task.”

Yameen said the “two in ‘12” wins were a tribute to Smith.

“When we found out that this year was going to be [Smith’s] last, we decided as a team that we wanted to send him off the right way – with two national championships,” she said.  “It was daunting at times, but we all kept our eyes on April and kept our hearts on Dan.  We wanted to win these two tournaments for him.”

Smith will be working as head of COM 103 next year and said he will continue to watch the team despite not being a coach.

“I’m looking forward to watching them succeed,” he said. “I’m staying in the COM department, so I’m looking forward to seeing them from a perspective I’ve never had before.”