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History

The legacy continues

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Forensics Team is a time consisting of a long and exciting history. Since the team's inception in 1944, the UW-Eau Claire's Forensics team is one of the longest running Forensics programs in the nation. Every year, the team grows and the legacy lives on.

Our team has won the Wisconsin State Championship for the last 32 years in a row. Since 2000, we have had more than 50 individual state champions. With the State Tournament brings the annual bid to IOC, the Interstate Oratory Contest, where 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 past 25 years. To date, UWEC boasts eight IOC National Champions!

Aside from just State and IOC, our team attends the AFA-NIET and the NFA National Tournaments. While we hold a strong legacy with IOC and State, we also continue to bring home national trophies. We continually place within the top 15 at the NFA National Tournament, while usually gracing the top twenty teams at the AFA-NIET.

Grace Walsh

Grace Walsh - the one who started it all

UW-Eau Claire's chapter of Pi Kappa Delta was chartered in 1951.The Wisconsin Zeta chapter charter was signed by Grace Walsh, one of Eau Claire's most treasured former coaches.

Grace, originally from St. Paul, MN, taught speech and coached forensics at UW-Eau Claire for 36 years. She received a bachelor's degree in education from UW-Superior in 1932 and a master's degree in philosophy from UW-Madison in 1939.

As a professor and director of forensics, she coached 25 state oratory champions and six national champions before retiring in 1980. She also coached 11 Wisconsin forensics champions, and no other state team beat UW-Eau Claire while the team was under her supervision. She was also the co-founder of the speech department and served as its chair for some time.

Grace also played a key role in developing many of the events and activities that are now standard conventions of the competitive speech world. For more than 50 years, forensics educators at UW-Eau Claire have strived to live up to the standard of excellence Grace established.

The annual Grace Walsh Individual Events College Forensics Tournament was named in her honor. She also was named an honorary member of UW-Eau Claire's alumni.

On April 24, 2000, Grace Walsh passed away at the age of 89. When team members visited Grace in December 1998, she said, "Be proud of what you do and don't take out junk!" The team has worked hard to follow her advice.

Thanks to Grace's leadership, UW-Eau Claire is one of only a few schools to have competed at every NFA and AFA since their inceptions, as well as to consistently place in the top ten.

  • 1917-1920:  Student Run Program
  • 1920-1925:  J.W.T. Ames (Coach)
  • 1925-1926:  C.D. Donaldson (Advisor)
  • 1926-1930:  C.L. Thomson (Coach)
  • 1930-1940:  C.D. Donaldson (Advisor)
  • 1940-1943:  C.D. Donaldson (Advisor), Samuel Davenport (Advisor)
  • 1943-1945:  Leonard Haas (Advisor), Albertine Reynolds (Advisor)
  • 1945-1947:  Unknown
  • 1947-1980: Grace Walsh (Director)
  • 1980-1982: Rick Hudson (Director)
  • 1982-1983: Rick Hudson (Director), Joyce Carey (Assistant Director)
  • 1983-1987: Joyce Carey (Director), Chris Reynolds (Assistant Director)
  • 1987-1989: Chris Reynolds (Director), David Dunlap, Jaime Meyer, Roger Aden (Assistant Directors)
  • 1989-1991: Roger Aden (Director), Jaime Meyer(Asst. Director)
  • 1991-1992: Sherrie Shepler (Director), Nancy Clark-Scobie (Assistant Director)
  • 1992-1997: Tom Workman (Director), Kelly Jo Wright (Assistant Director)
  • 1997-2020:  Karen Morris (Director), Kelly Jo Wright (Assistant Director)
  • 2020-Present: Chris Outzen (Director), Kelly Jo Wright (Assistant Director)

Current Coaches

Director of Forensics                                                                
CHRIS OUTZEN                                                                                                                                                   

HHH 174                                                                                                           

outzencp@uwec.edu                                                                                           

 

Assistant Director of Forensics
KELLY JO WRIGHT

HHH 173

wrightkj@uwec.edu

National champions

UWEC Forensics is one of six programs that has been present at every single AFA-NIET and one of only four schools who have attended 44 consecutive NFA Championship Tournaments (missing only the first NFA). Our team legacy lives on through all team members. Some competitors however rose to the top and achieved a national championship. The following are competitors of the UWEC Forensics team who became national champions.

  • 2003 –Scott Boras (Poetry Interpretation)
  • 1995 –Adam Hafdahl (Program Oral Interpretation)
  • 1992 –Rita Rahoi (Extemporaneous Speaking)
  • 1987 –Michael Stolts (Persuasion)
  • 1985 –Bucky Fay (Impromptu)
  • 1982 –Dana Davidson (Poetry Interpretation)
  • 2004 – Kelly Bender (Persuasion)
  • 2003 – Ben Schneider (Persuasion)
  • 2002 – Paul Gilleland (Experimental, original Shakespeare)
  • 1998 –Ann Hackel (Informative Speaking)
  • 1996 –Shawn Harris (Persuasion)
  • 1992 –Cindy Weisenbeck (Lincoln-Douglas Debate)
  • 1987 –Mike Stolts (Rhetorical Criticism)
  • 1986 –Bucky Fay (Impromptu)
  • 1977 –Ruth Brenner (Persuasion)

Interstate Oratory Contest (IOC) History

Our team has a long and thrilling foundation of nationally ranked orators representing at the national Interstate Oratory Contest. The tournament is a national tournament exclusive to Persuasion. Each state sends two representatives to compete. The representatives are determined at the annual State Tournament held every year in February. We've been able to send a competitor almost every single year to compete, many of whom have returned with national championship titles.

  • 2020 - Elder Romero
  • 2020 - Meghan Nue
  • 2019 - Maddy Hinze
  • 2019 - Colin Pitman (6th place)
  • 2018 - Emily Shepardson
  • 2017 - Tennisha Sonsalla (4th place)
  • 2016 - Elijah Freeman
  • 2015 - Caitlyn Duley
  • 2015 - Sarah Doege
  • 2014 - Elijah Freeman
  • 2013 - Megan McKeown (3rd Place)
  • 2013 - Abby Rand
  • 2012 - Holly Albers
  • 2011 - Patrick Martin (National Champion)
  • 2010 - Nick Miller (National Champion)
  • 2009 - Eric Plantenberg
  • 2009 - Emily Schreiner
  • 2008 - Eric Plantenberg (6th Place)
  • 2007 - Julie Germain
  • 2007 - Christine Zani (2nd Place)
  • 2006 - Christine Zani
  • 2006 - Betsy Schroder
  • 2005 - Kelly Bender (2nd Place)
  • 2004 - Kelly Bender (2nd Place)
  • 2004 - Andy Bevernitz (5th Place)
  • 2003 - Kelly Bender
  • 2003 - Ben Schneider (5th Place)
  • 2002 - Ben Schneider
  • 2002 - Adam Collidge
  • 2001 - Jodi Becker
  • 2001 - Aaron Unseth (National Champion)
  • 2000 - Jodi Becker
  • 2000 - Arwen Williams
  • 1999 - Kate Grosskopk
  • 1999 - Jodi Becker
  • 1998 - Jodi Becker
  • 1998 - Holly Pyrek
  • 1997 - Libby Haight (5th Place)
  • 1997 - Jennifer Sunstrom
  • 1996 - Shawn Harris (6th Place)
  • 1996 - Jenny Reel
  • 1995 - Shawn Harris
  • 1995 - Eileen Dintelman
  • 1994 - Cindy Weisenbeck
  • 1994 - Amy Sjolander
  • 1993 - Shawn Harris
  • 1991 - Raula Dunkow
  • 1991 - Amy Sjolander
  • 1989 - Alan Jalowitz (6th Place)
  • 1988 - Sharyn Kolstad (2nd Place)
  • 1987 - Michael Stolts (6th Place)
  • 1986 - Michael Stolts (6th Place)
  • 1985 - Beth Moberg (4th Place)
  • 1984 - Sharyn Kolstad (6th Place)
  • 1984 - Beth Moberg (2nd Place)
  • 1983 - Beth Moberg
  • 1982 - Tracy Anderson (4th Place)
  • 1982 - Rovert Boisvert Jr. (6th Place)
  • 1981 - J. Thomas Christy
  • 1981 - Colleen Keough
  • 1980 - J. Thomas Christy (Finalist)
  • 1978 - Ruth Brenner (National Champion)
  • 1978 - Rick Hudson
  • 1977 - Ruth Brenner
  • 1977 - Rick Hudson
  • 1976 - Michael J. Rindo (2nd Place)
  • 1976 - John P. Rindo (National Champion)
  • 1975 - Michael J. Rindo
  • 1973 - Caroline Welch
  • 1972 - John E. Walsh (3rd Place)
  • 1971 - John W. Walsh (Finalists)
  • 1969 - Lynn Gruentzel (3rd Place)
  • 1966 - Sandy Siebert (Finalist)
  • 1964 - Kathy Hays
  • 1961 - Richard Duesterbeck (National Champion)
  • 1958 - Kathie Kidd
  • 1956 - Jacelyn Gilbertson (National Champion)
  • 1955 - Ralph Zimmermann (National Champion)
  • 1953 - Joan Reidy (National Champion)
  • 1953 - George Gerner (3rd Place)
  • 1951 - Flavienne Hanson
  • 1951 - Cletus Howard
  • 1950 - Margine Frye
  • 1950 - Clarence Imislund (Finalist)
  • 1948 - Robert J. Couture (3rd Place)

Awards

We have some dedicated, passionate, and inspiring students participating as members of the forensics team. We love to recognize the students who go above and beyond, stick with us through their entire college careers, and make the forensics team better than when they started. Our awards help us do that.

Many of our members compete for all four years and devote all of their free time and effort into the forensics program. Some members of the team go above and beyond expectations. Typically, the Outstanding Varsity Award is given to a fourth-year senior member. This is an important award, given to those members on team to truly deserve acknowledgment for all of their success, devotion and passion to this team.

Recipients
  • 2020 - Emily Shepardson
  • 2019 - Maddy Hinze and Colin Pitman
  • 2018 - 
  • 2017 - Sydney Tupy
  • 2016 - Alex Brown
  • 2015 - Jake Wrasse
  • 2014 - Stephen Fong
  • 2013 - Megan McKeown
  • 2012 - Patrick Martin
  • 2011 - Alicia Gerber and Meghan Pickard
  • 2010 - Nick Miller
  • 2009 - Justin Rudnick
  • 2008 - Hilary Rasmussen
  • 2007 - Amy Oldakowski and Christine Zani
  • 2006 - Chris Conklin
  • 2005 - Andy Bevernitz
  • 2004 - Kelly Bender
  • 2003 - Ben Schneider
  • 2002 - Aaron Unseth
  • 2001 - Reid Stollverger
  • 2000 - Eric Rasmussen
  • 1999 - Melanie Miller
  • 1998 - Nicole Defenbaugh
  • 1997 - Libby Haight
  • 1996 - Meredith Manners and Shawn Harris
  • 1995 - Thomas D. Penn IV
  • 1994 - Amy Sjolander
  • 1993 - Cindy Weisenbeck

As an extra-curricular activity, the first and main focus for the members of the Forensics team is academics. While it's easy to get swept away by the commitment and devotion to the Forensics program, students must maintain a 2.5 GPA in order to stay on the Forensics team. However, the members of our team hold a high GPA, and hold a high passion for academics. The Outstanding Academic Achievement award is a pristine award, given to those students on team, who exceed academic expectations.

Recipients
  • 2020 - Allison Schwarz
  • 2019- Jacie Jones
  • 2018 -
  • 2017 -
  • 2016 - Ben Thompson Isaac and Elijah Freeman
  • 2015 - Sarah Doege
  • 2014 - Jake Wrasse
  • 2013 - Sarah Doege
  • 2012 - Jessica Krentz
  • 2011 - April Ross
  • 2010 - Whitney Zahn
  • 2009 - Meghan Pickard
  • 2008 - Emily Schreiner
  • 2007 - Julie Germain
  • 2006 - Amy Oldakowski
  • 2005 - Christine Zani
  • 2004 - Chris Conklin
  • 2003 - Kelly Bender
  • 2002 - Brian Haapala
  • 2001 - Brian Haapala
  • 2000 - Cate Dunham
  • 1999 - Arwen Dale
  • 1998 - Holly Pyrek
  • 1997 - Jen Reel
  • 1996 - Rebecca Carson

While all members of the UW-Eau Claire's Forensics team reach different levels of success and excellence throughout their careers, some students, as novice, exceed expectations. The Outstanding Novice Award is an award given to a first-year forensics team member who has gone above and beyond expectations.

Recipients
  • 2020 -  Roshan Karki
  • 2019-   Elder Romero
  • 2018 -  Dana Athmann
  • 2017 -  Lauren Brooks
  • 2016 – Colin Pitman
  • 2015 – Tennisha Sonsalla
  • 2014 – Nick Stamm
  • 2013 – Jake Wrasse
  • 2012 – Jake Stendahl
  • 2011 – Jarrel Montgomery
  • 2010 – Jessica Krentz and Abby Rand
  • 2009 – James Kust
  • 2008 – Megan Pickard
  • 2007 – BJ Pickard and Eric Plantenberg
  • 2006 – Julie Germain
  • 2005 – Hilary Rasmussen
  • 2004 – Amy Oldakowski and Christine Zani
  • 2003 – Chris Conklin
  • 2002 – Kelly Bender
  • 2001 – Brandon Buchanan
  • 2000 – Ben Schneider
  • 1999 – Eric Rasmussen
  • 1998 – Arwen Williams
  • 1996 – Libby Haight
  • 1995 – Nicole Defenbaugh
  • 1994 – Jen Reel
  • 1993 – Meredith Manners

As members within a society and community of excellence, the UW-Eau Claire's Forensics Team works closely with members of the community, whether they are bell-ringing around the holidays, trick-or-treating for canned goods, or raising money for charities. As much as the Forensics team works to give back to the community, there some members within the community that give back to us. The Pillar Award is the newest of our team awards, designed to honor those people in our community that contribute to the Forensics program with their support, teachings, and contributions.

Recipients
  • 2019 - Natalie and Nick Miller (alum
  • 2018 - Justin Rudnick (Alum)
  • 2017 - No Recipent
  • 2016 - Jake Johnson (Alum)
  • 2015 - Brandon Buchanon (Alum)
  • 2014 - David Tschida (UWEC communication and journalism faculty)
  • 2013 - Judy Gatlin (UWEC communication and journalism administrative assistant)
  • 2012 - Deano Pape (Director of Forensics of Ripon College)
  • 2011 - Judine Brey (Alumna) and Dr. Mary Hoffman (UWEC communication and journalism faculty)
  • 2010 - Brian Heller (UWEC custodial staff) and Larry Schnoor (MSU-Mankato faculty)
  • 2009 - Rebecca Zillmer (UWEC accounts payable staff)
  • 2008 - Sally Webb (UWEC faculty)
  • 2007 - Dan McNeely (Alum)
  • 2006 - Ryan Morris (Bradley University Alum)
  • 2005 - Amy Braun (Alumna) and Arwen Rassmusen (Alumna)

Want to make a donation?

First and foremost, thank you! Our team is the cream of the crop at UWEC and we're excited you want to be a part of their success. All of our donations are run through the Foundation office on campus. Through them you'll be able to specify where you'd like your donation to go.

Forensics Distinguished Lecturer Fund
Grace Walsh Scholarship Fund

Feeling nostalgic?

If you are a past member of our incredible forensics team, we want to stay in touch! Please connect with us on Facebook so you and other past members can contribute ideas, topics, or put together social events. We wouldn't be here today without you.

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