Fresh Face

header2It happened, ladies and gentlemen. I have just competed in my very first collegiate competition at Ripon today!

Albeit it was just an intramural tournament, but it was still a potent cocktail with one part exciting, one part great team bonding, and two parts “wooaahhhh”*

But, before any success at a tournament can take place, one needs to tough it through the week before. If you’ve never played the competitive forensics game, or if it’s been awhile, that last week of preparation before the first meet can get quite intense and frustrating; making sure that paragraph is memorized, your blocking crisp, etc. Which brings me to the part of the show entitled “Don’t Do What Allie Did”:

Don’t Do What Allie Did #1:  Forget to double check that the prose book you ordered will be delivered at an appropriate time for you to read and cut it. No one likes to do one less category than they originally planned for a tournament. **

Don’t Do What Allie Did #2: Write your intro for your piece at 11: 00 pm the night before. I don’t care if your best ideas come at “the witching hour”, it will not be perfectly memorized, and you will freak out about it all morning, when you run your piece before your rounds, and quite especially during your performance. Just get that written now.

Don’t Do What Allie Did #3: Freak out about practicing with coaches. Nothing bad comes out of going to individual practice sessions. I don’t care how nervous you feel about performing in front of some of your coaches, you suck it up and go in. They are there for you! They want to help make your piece better, your performance more crisp, learn more about you so you can become pals, and sometimes they’ll ask if Kirt Graves ever coached you…;)

Besides, it’ll be all worth it when you go to your first competition!

And let me tell you something, ladies and gents. Collegiate forensics competitions are interesting things. The beginning, thus far, has proven to be the most entertaining, what with all of the early morning team bonding, warm ups, and run throughs. (But I musn’t give away what those are. It would ruin the aura of mystery surrounding Ripon College Forensics traditions.) And, if you hold high school tournaments near and dear to your heart, I should warn you about things you will and will not see at college tournaments. Backpacks to carry around everything you need? Overthrown by classy leather messenger bags and large black purses. Questionable outfits including khaki pants and floral skater skirts? Swallowed by everyone looking fierce in legitimate suits. Pillowpets? PRAISE THE LORD ALMIGHTY CAUSE THOSE TACKY LITTLE BASTARDS ARE NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. Someone perfumed the air with “Maturity” and “Sophistication” by Calvin Klein and I pray that scent never ever fades away.

Other than worrying about my green intro, I was excited to see what other pieces and competitors were on the circuit. Since the rules and requirements for pieces are much more precise and sophisticated, I could not reiterate my exact joy at knowing that I would never have to compete against a “Speak”, “Tell Tale”, or Dr. Seuss interpretation ever again. (If you’ve been on the high school circuit in recent years, you feel my feels. My heart melted several times at the refreshing amount of pieces.) There was depth, meaning, and thought in every piece. There were not cheap tricks designed just to make you laugh more or cry harder. There was a competitor in my first round who did a POI*** about a tragic fire (arson) that killed dozens of gay men in New Orleans, not just to make you cry, but to make a point about how our media hides some of our greatest tragedies. And sometimes, the competitors you get most excited about are not necessarily the ones who blow you away with their performance, but the ones you competed with in high school! It’s quite fantastic that college forensics can  turn your past DI competitor into your interp pal! (I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I had a slight MackAttack when I saw some of their faces, but having that rapport with each other is wonderful – having each other to relate to when you’re making that awkward transition from high school to college forensics).

Me? I suppose I did all right, breaking into the collegiate circuit. (I could indulge you in what my pieces are, but that’d be spoiling the fun…) I can tell you that while it didn’t earn me a spot in finals (the IM didn’t do rankings, twas just for tournament experience), I happened to snag “Best Dressed” at the tournament. This means three things:

  1.  My Forensics Philosophy stands: Always knock ‘em dead with a killer suit and pearls.
  2. There is a 100% chance that I will cherish the little gift bag that came with my “Best Dressed” title as my first college forensics trophy.
  3. Putting hard work and effort in what you love to do has a tendency to pay off in the end.

Like, for real, a junior today thought that I was a junior. EXCUSE ME FOR BEING EXCITED!

Keep it classy, forensicators.


*     Despite being a college student in the middle of Wisconsin, I do not condone the use of alcohol of those who are underage

**   I LOVED to be triple entered in high school. Maybe that’s just me. Is that weird?

*** POI is an interp category, made up of various sources of media (poems, prose, news reports, articles, dramas, films, etc.) that are used to support not a “theme”, but a well thought out thesis.


You Gotta Face It

header1When you sit in the car, the morning of move-in, belongings overflowing in the back seat, and final goodbyes dished out, many begin to wonder about the future in their new, post-secondary world.

I was just hoping that I could find a piece for Solo Serious that can top last year’s.

In high school, I was commonly referred to as “that forensics girl.” Involved since my freshman year, I started out as the timid little first year that spoke way too fast and needed a little slap of reality. My first category ever was farrago (and bless your little heart if you’re in that category), and I went on to do Oratorical Declamation, OIL, Poetry, Duo, Solo Serious, and Prose. I’m fluent in all forensics speech, make sound effects for myself when opening an actual door, and look at suits on Overstock when bored.

It came as no surprise when I got to tell everyone for the eightieth time that I was going to Ripon College with a forensics scholarship. (It’s a pretty swell place. Heard of it? No? STOP READING RIGHT NOW AND LOOK IT UP!) Part of the package, however, was that I needed to attend the official Forensics Boot Camp. And for all y’all who have done high school forensics for some time, you’ll feel me when I say that I thought it would be silly. I knew the ropes. But let me tell you: Collegiate forensics, friends, is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Only three hours into boot camp, I began to have a MackAttack. (Fun fact: A MackAttack is when I am experiencing excitement, anxiety, and a general “Is This Real Life?” feeling internally all at the same time. So perhaps I look like a decent human being on the outside, but all of the butterflies in my stomach are having a crazy-pants rave.) When considering continuing forensics in college, brace yourself for stepping from the icebox into the hot tub. It is wonderfully and discouragingly different from the competition many have come to love. Many of the little nuances that we hold dear and enjoy about high school forensics competitions have been steamrollered by the maturity of collegiate practices. Collegiate forensics looks high school forensics in the eye and tells it to, “Run along home.”

Don’t you love it when your high school coach finds you a fantastic piece with the perfect cutting? You’d better kiss their feet and give them a candy bar, because now you have to find your own material and write your own speech, and if it’s not brilliant, you can just throw that crap away. That classy binder opening you perfected for quals? Go spend a couple hours correcting it, because now there is only one way to open and close your binder, and IT IS THE RIGHT WAY. ‘Relationships’ for your theme for farrago or poetry? How quaint. Because if your POI has a cute little “theme” instead of a contemporary, socially relevant and supported thesis, you have two days to try, try again. Did I mention that the first competition is in three weeks?

It is certainly a different world, friends. We’re all ditching the 7:00 am Mountain Dew for a black coffee and taking a maturity pill, because this – this is where it gets real.

The worst part was that I got scared. The workload and intensity and just general change got those butterflies to really twerk it out. During a break, I stepped outside of boot camp to breathe and send my worries to God. The people on the team were such great people with poignant ideas, ready to work and ready to get to know you. Why couldn’t I share in their joy? I went back in, resettling my faith in my future in college forensics and my faith in myself. I was thankful for my faith in God, because that Mountain Dew is really tempting, friends.  It’s going to be different. It’s going to be a challenge. But that’s why people go to college in the first place, right? It’s only Day One, and one day can’t shake off four years of love for this incredible activity. Anything different can be scary, guys, but that’s why we need to do it. I came here for fun, so help me God, I will get it out of this award-winning team, amazing professional coaches, and personal effort. So I’m going to find that perfect POI thesis, and you’re going to finally try Moments In History or Extemp. But for now, I’m just going to hang out with my roomie and browse for some more suits.

By the way, POI is for next time. Or just Google it. We live in the 21st, punks.

Allie Macknick

New Column: Amazing Face

AllieMacknickForensics Faces is proud to announce an upcoming column written exclusively for the Forensics Faces blog. Amazing Face will detail the experiences of Allie Macknick, a four-year forensics alumnus from Sheboygan South who is transitioning into the world of college forensics as a freshman at Ripon College.

Many students fail to realize that there are opportunities to continue their forensics career beyond high school. Allie pursued a place on the Ripon College team and was rewarded with a scholarship. Now that she’s embarking on the next phase of her forensics career, Allie will take us with her on her journey through the hills, valleys, and steep cliffs that await. She’ll share with us the rigorous practice schedule, the challenge of balancing classes with competitions, all the ways college and high school forensics differ, and she’ll offer some insight on the wonderful (and sometimes wacky) personalities that she encounters.

Questions and comments can be sent to