by Onize Ohikere
Nearly a decade ago, MSUM boasted a forensics team that participated in tournaments at the state level. But with a fall in student interest and tightened budgets, the program could not be saved and was discontinued in 2006.
Now, nine years later, students and faculty gathered for the first meeting of the revived Dragon speech team.
“We are pioneers,” said MSUM’s chair of communication and journalism, C.T. Hanson.
A few faculty members made efforts to restart the team over the years, but the absence of resources and available coaches hindered their attempts.
Two years ago, MSUM merged the departments of mass communications and communications, creating the School of Communication and Journalism. With the use of differential tuition in the new college, Hanson explained they could now afford to fund the speech team.
“It’s a valuable experience for students,” Hanson said. “Everyone needs to enhance their communication skills.”
Hanson will serve as the team’s head coach and professor Theresa Hest will assist. Hanson worked as a forensics team coach during the pursuit of his masters at NDSU and his doctorate at Wayne State University in Illinois. He went on to work as a speech team coach at Illinois State University before his time at MSUM. Hest is experienced in coaching high school debate as well as on a college level at NDSU.
Some MSUM students with high school experience in speech and debate recalled the benefits of participating in speech.
“I was this quiet, little, antisocial person,” said Jaycie Honeyman, student coordinator of the Dragon speech team. “Speech allowed me to develop my own voice and become social.”
The team will be participating in 11 events that fall into interpretation, public address and limited preparation.
“There’s something for everyone since there are so many different categories,” said MSUM freshman Anna Landsverk. “Any subject could apply to your major or field of interest.”
During the meeting, Hanson explained the team will start with Tuesday Tournaments, where they can leave and return on the same day before easing into weekend tournaments. The first Tuesday Tournament is set for Oct. 20, and the new team will be competing.
“If you’re going to get something started, you need to capitalize on student interest,” Hanson said.
As the team continues to build its way back, Hanson sees benefits that go beyond helping students with communication skills.
“It’s going to play a valuable role in recruitment and retention,” Hanson said.
He explained as the team gets out more, high school students at the tournaments could consider MSUM as an option.
“One way to let people know the quality of our students is to let them go out there and let their accomplishments shine,” he said.
For students already enrolled who have an interest in speech, the team is one more reason to stay at MSUM.
“You want to do what you can to hang onto the students you have,” Hanson added.
The second speech team meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. in Maclean 267.