WSU sophomore Kevin Mardirosian finished fourth at the American Forensics Association’s National Individual Events Tournament, the country’s premiere collegiate competitive speech tournament on April 4.
Mardirosian, as a part of the WSU Forensics Team, competed in Prose Interpretation, the largest category of the competition. He placed fourth overall out of the best 27 entries from around the country, according to a press release from the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts.
Mardirosian said Prose Interpretation is a category within forensics that interprets texts from books or short stories to emphasize storytelling. He said as a speaker, he uses facial reactions, eye contact, emotion and blocking to convey the message of the piece.
“Placing fourth at the AFA NIET was the biggest accomplishment I've ever had and I couldn't be happier,” said Mardirosian. “It was a surreal moment being up on stage with these amazing individuals and being called fourth place in the nation. It was incredible."
Mardirosian said he cannot thank his WSU family, coaching staff and teammates enough for their support and couldn’t have been successful without them.
“Finishing this well at the AFA NIET is a program first for Wayne State University,” said Associate Professor of Communication and Director of Forensics Dr. Kelly Young. “While the competitive speech and debate teams have existed since 1918, we have not finished this high at this tournament.”
Assistant graduate coach Jade Metzger said in the press release that much preparation went in the American Forensics Association’s National Individual Events Tournament.
“During his coaching practices, Kevin comes prepared with memorized pieces, sets goals for those sessions, and performs his speeches in whole or in part,” she said. “The coaching staff provides him with feedback for improvement, which can include speeding up to stay in time, pausing, movement, and articulation.”
Young said the WSU Speech and Debate Team won a national championship at the National Forensics Association championship and finished in the semifinals of the American Forensics Association’s National Individual Events Tournament last season and reached the Quarterfinals in 2007.
Young said the forensics team at WSU began in 1918 and became rather successful with the arrival of Dr. George Ziegelmueller - the director of forensics from 1962-2005.
“By 1966 and 1967, the team finished second at the nation’s most prestigious debate tournament, the National Debate Tournament [and] since then, the program has produced hundreds of team and individual debate and speech champions,” Young said.
The team has a history of winning a variety of different competitions including taking first place at the National Forensics Association Championship and the American Debate Association national championship.
“Our students…have won virtually every major national debate tournament at least once,” said Young.
He said while the WSU Forensics Team is not close to being one of the largest teams in the country and don’t have the same infrastructure and resources of other programs, the coaches’ help WSU students practice frequently and provide some very experienced and talented coaches.
“To use a tired metaphor, they are diamonds in the rough; students who have a desire to succeed but need refinement to maximize their potential,” said Young.
Young said to prepare for a competition, the team scouts out the competition, evaluate past performances, develops a game plan for what changes they need to make for the next competition, and practice those changes in their arguments and performances.
Other WSU students competing at the American Forensics Association’s National Individual Events Tournament include Senior Gaia Klotz, Senior Imran Nahin, and Senior Nick Norton.
Mardirosian said forensics is unlike anything else WSU students will find in life and suggests if students want to become a better citizen in the world, forensics is the activity to do it.
“The Wayne State Individual Events team is a program that fosters talent and creativity and pushes people to be the best they can be,” he said. “The coaching staff is committed and equally as talented and I can't thank them enough for everything.”