A new format due to COVID-19 restrictions did not stop the University of Lynchburg’s Debate and Forensics Team from bringing home several awards at the first-ever online Collegiate Forensics Association Tournament earlier this month.
The CFA online tournament still included three general categories of speech and debate, plus options for several events in each category.
One of the Lynchburg team captains, Madison Pietctrazak ’20, won fourth place in Prose and shared the fifth-place award in Duo Dramatic Interpretation with Rhiannon Cire ’21. She also shared first place in Parliamentary Debate with James Cardenas ’22.
Pietctrazak, a communication studies major and theatre minor from Townsend, Delaware, said her favorite part was seeing all her friends from other schools and being able to continue competing — despite pandemic restrictions.
“It was still so much fun! I am so proud of how our team performed, especially members who were new to this competition,” she said.
Cire, an art and computer science major and mathematics minor from Montvale, Virginia, secured sixth place in Parliamentary Debate Speaker Awards, sixth place in Prose, third place in Single Dramatic Interpretation, sixth place in Pentath, and also shared sixth place in Duo Dramatic Interpretation with Rheanna Weeks ’23.
Weeks, a biology major and German minor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, also picked up fourth place in Poetry and shared third place in the Parliamentary Debate (team) with Cire.
Cardenas, an international relations and security studies major from Worcester, Massachusetts, collected sixth place in Parliamentary Debate Speaker Awards, and fourth place in the Lincoln/Douglas Debate.
Music education major Victoria Rogers ’24 from Moneta, Virginia, won fourth place in Single Dramatic Interpretation.
The Lynchburg team as a whole attained fourth place in the Sweepstakes category, which team coach Dr. Paula Youra, professor of communication studies and director of the Center for Professional Communication, attributed to hours of preparation.
“Their success was due to constant practice. Think of it like an athletic team, we practice as hard as any other athletic team. When they are going to a game, they work to make sure they are prepared for any scenario. Just like a traveling athletic team, we are essentially competing with our minds more than anything else,” Youra said.
The award is especially important since the nine-member Lynchburg team is competing against larger teams like Randolph-Macon College or Bloomsburg University, which have up to 30 people on their teams.
“I have to hand it to our students; not just that they take time to work on stuff that will help them be better students, better graduates, and better job prospects, but they see this as something that will help them in their careers,” Youra said.
Their next competition will be another online tournament on Nov. 6.