Lynchburg’s Debate and Forensics Team scored four first-place wins at the College Forensics Association tournament in Clearwater, Florida, Jan. 19-20.
Debate captain Victoria Rogers ’24 won first place in Poetry, two second places in the Pentath and Impromptu categories, a third place in Single Dramatic Interpretation, a fourth place in the Informative category, and a fifth in Prose.
“I was extremely excited to be able to compete in Florida,” said the vocal music education major with minors in music media and musical theatre from Moneta, Virginia. “This was also my last tournament with the team, meaning it was great to go out with such a large trip.
“Having to leave is bittersweet, but I plan to start, take over, or assist with a high school team when I begin my career after graduation.”
Rogers, who competed all through high school and college, has racked up eight years of experience in debate and forensics. She also is a Westover Honors Fellow, a member of nine different honor societies on campus, a University Ambassador, a CHAMPS mentor, and has participated in several performance ensembles and shows.
Forensics captain Fernanda Evangelista ’27, of Brazil, came away with two wins. The criminology-philosophy and intelligence studies double major with minors in political science and international relations placed first in the Informative and the Single Dramatic Interpretation categories and fifth in the Declamation, Pentath, and DUO categories.
Exercise physiology major and sports medicine minor Alanna Costello ’27, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, also managed multiple placements, including a first-place win in Communication Analysis. She scored a second place in After Dinner Speaking, a fifth place in DUO, and a sixth place in Poetry.
“This is my first year on the team,” Costello said. “My favorite part about the competition was getting to celebrate everyone’s victories. There’s no greater feeling than seeing your teammates succeed after the hours of work they put into it.”
“The students on the University of Lynchburg Debate and Forensics team work extremely hard when they are preparing for and competing in tournaments,” said communication studies professor Dr. Paula Youra, who directs the Center for Professional Communication and coaches the team.
“In this last tournament, our team members delivered public presentations and engaged in lively debate for up to 10 hours each day. Team members design, research, and develop their own original oratory based on subjects they find interesting and challenging.”
Youra emphasized that the point of Debate and Forensics goes beyond competition — it’s a life skill. “Our goal is not only to compete in tournaments, but to develop the communication skills necessary to be successful in professional realms.”
In addition to individual placements, Lynchburg also won the Third Place Sweepstakes Team Award.
“I am most proud of my team,” Rogers said. “Overall, we had four first-place wins — one of which came from a freshman whose piece is now undefeated, Alanna Costello.
“As someone who has competed with this team for four years, this was probably one of the most successful competitions we have ever had.”
The Debate and Forensics team is open to any enrolled students at Lynchburg who like to travel, enjoy being on a team, “and who want to be the best they can be as they move through their college experience and on to their careers,” Youra said. No prior experience is needed.
For more information and to get involved, email email@example.com.