UWEC Forensics Team History
Building the Legacy
The team was founded in 1944 by Grace Walsh, when she first came to teach here at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. At the time, she was the only female teacher at the University. The next year, we were already hosting yearly collegiate and high school forensic tournaments.
In 1951, she chartered the Wisconsin Zeta Chapter of Pi Kappa Delta, the national forensics honor society. Wisconsin Zeta was, for a very long tim,e not only the largest chapter of PKD in the country, but also the most successful.
Grace taught Speech Communications. She was one of the founding members of the Communications/Journalism deparment here, and was the Department Chair for many years. In addition, she was the head coach of Forensics for 36 years – establishing a tradition of nothing but excellence.
Grace coached 25 state Oratory Champions, Champions who went onto the Interstate Oratory Contest. No other state team beat Eau Claire during Grace’s reign. She also played a key role in developing many of the Forensics standards/norms you’ll see in collegiate competition, for she was part of the group responsible for literally, defining the events you compete in.
Grace was one of the few who saw the birth of the national forensics organizations: NFA and AFA. In addition, she was one of the founders (proposed and defined rules for) Rhetorical Criticism.
Grace retired in 1980 – and since then, Eau Claire has stayed strong. A bunch of team members visited Grace in 1998 (she passed away in 2000) and her advice was:
of what you do, and don’t take out junk.”
Today, we follow that advice: We have a supportive base of hundreds of Alumni – some of which are right here on campus. With the support of our alumni, we were able to host the 2006 NFA national tournament, along with the 2010 AFA national tournament.
Thanks to Grace, Eau Claire has attended every AFA-NIET since it's inception, and attended the second ever NFA national tournament, and has been going every year since.
On a state level:
We’ve also had far too many to count state champions, and as of 2011, have won the state team Championship each of the past 20 years. The top two winners in Persuasion at the state tournament go on to IOC – Persuasion Nationals. IOC is the oldest intercollegiate competitive event in existence and each state is only allowed to send two competitors. UWEC has sent at least one competitor from Wisconsin for the last 20 years.
Since 2000 have had more than 50 individual state champions.
On a national level:
We’ve had countless national out round-ers, finalists, and champions. Forensics competition has no division brackets to separate out ‘Big Schools’ from ‘Small Schools’, but Eau Claire has almost consistently always been in the top 10 teams in the nation.