News & Stories
March 30, 2022

Berry College's debate team dominates tourneys

Berry College's Forensics Union dominated in this year's state and national tournaments.

The Forensics Union is Berry's competitive speech and debate team. Matthew Delzer, director of forensics, and Hope Willoughby, assistant director of forensics, coach and serve as lecturers for the Berry Communication Department.

At the National Speech Championship, held synchronously online this year, every Berry student made it to the national quarterfinals, and one went the distance to the national finals in two events.

The National Speech Championship is a varsity level tournament. In

Team Sweepstakes Berry College placed tenth. Morgan Thoem, of Rome, Ga., is the first national finalist since 2009 for Berry. She also placed 2nd in Informative Speaking and 5th in Persuasive Speaking.

The following students also earned awards:

  • Vanessa Fowler, of Cumming, Ga. (Quarter-Finalist - Informative Speaking )
  • Jacob Pritchett, of Tallassee, Ala. (Quarter-Finalist - Dramatic Interpretation)
  • Kalista Shields, of Saint Petersburg, Fla. (Quarter-Finalist - After Dinner Speaking )

The team also competed at Novice Nationals, in Indianapolis and secured 2nd place overall with five individual champions. Novice Nationals is a tournament for college students in their first year of competing, and Berry has had a national champion for the past seven years.

  • Sara Blakely, Lawrenceville, Ga. (National Champion, After Dinner Speaking)
  • Ellie Perkins, Ambrose, Ga. (National Champion, Informative Speaking )
  • Shields (National Champion Speaker, National Semi-Finalist in IPDA Debate )
  • Blakely (National Champion, Program Oral Interpretation )
  • Brittany Lince, Kenosha, Wis. (2nd place, Program Oral Interpretation ; National Champion, Prose Interpretation; 3rd place, Individual Sweepstakes and top overall speakers at the tournament.)
  • Perkins (2nd place, Prose Interpretation )
  • Hannah Boler, Inman, S.C. (2nd place, Public Narrative)
  • Nolan Davidson, Franklin, Tenn. (3rd place, Rhetorical Criticism)
  • Team Sweepstakes (2nd Place)

For the state tournament, Berry secured their 27th consecutive Georgia state championship. The Georgia Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Championship offers 14 individual state championships, and Berry won a grand total of eight.

  • Thoem (Champion, Persuasive Speaking; Champion, Rhetorical Criticism )
  • Champion
  • Fowler (2nd place, Persuasive Speaking )
  • Shields (Champion, Program Oral Interpretation; 2nd place Dramatic Interpretation; Champion After Dinner Speaking )
  • Kandra Martin, East Ellijay, Ga. (2nd place, Program Oral Interpretation)
  • Davidson (3rd place, Rhetorical Criticism )
  • Pritchett (Champion, Dramatic Interpretation; Champion, Extemporaneous Speaking; 2nd place, Impromptu Sales )
  • Rachel Siler, Sparks, Ga. (3rd place, Dramatic Interpretation)
  • Perkins (Champion, Informative Speaking; Champion, Prose Interpretation)
  • Fowler (2nd place, Informative Speaking; 2nd place Poetry Interpretation; 3rd place Impromptu Speaking)
  • Haven Hendrix, Sugar Valley, Ga. (2nd place, Prose Interpretation)
  • Karina Perez, Signal Mountain, Tenn. (2nd place After Dinner Speaking)
  • Melissa Wright, Lilburn, Ga. (3rd place After Dinner Speaking)
  • Cecilia Kolbash, Belmont, N.C. (2nd place Public Narrative)
  • Boler (3rd place, Public Narrative)
  • Pritchett / Shields (3rd place, Duo Interpretation)

For more information on Berry's communication department, visit


Written by Public Relations Student Assistant Reed Couch

 Back to Top

Footer Menu