Speech Team to compete in national tournament


Chynna Miller

Bethany Oxford, a senior psychology major, and Marques Brown, a junior communication studies major, perform a speech about the racism portrayed in Disney movies during the EIU Speech Team Spring Showcase Wednesday in the auditorium of Coleman Hall.

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Eastern’s Speech Team has a big weekend ahead of them next week as they compete in a national competition April 16 through 20 in Athens, Ohio.

The team members going to the National Forensics Association competition are Marques Brown, the speech team president, Austin Mejdrich, the speech team vice president, and Bethany Oxford, the social chairman.

To qualify for nationals in any event, the competitors had to get into a final round in a regular tournament.

This is the second national tournament the team has competed in, after Pi Kappa Delta, which was also in Athens Ohio.

“We did really well,” Brown said. “We had three events move to the top 10 or 20 percent of the competition.”

The Speech Team was able to make it to another national tournament despite recent budget cuts.

Because of statewide cuts, the team’s budget was cut by 20 percent.

Mejdrich said they are able to participate in two tournaments because of donations and fundraisers.

“We got the ambition to go when we sat down, and decided we were going to be able to do it,” he said.

Sara Gronstal, the head speech team coach and communication studies professor, said she saw how well the team did at various tournaments.

“They are a team of very hard workers,” she said.

Costs for a tournament can be up to $2,000, which includes the hotel price and tournament fees.

Mejdrich was in the top 30 percent in Pi Kappa Delta for his impromptu speaking where competitors have two minutes to write a five minute speech based on a topic given to them on the spot, and Brown came in fourth place for his after dinner speaking, which is an event using humor to talk about serious topics.

The members can compete in multiple events, such as Brown, who participates in six, Oxford who participates in three, and Mejdrich, who competes in three.

Oxford got her start in speech team four years ago, when her brother encouraged her to join.

Brown started in his sophomore year, and Medjdrich joined his freshman year of high school.

“I joined late, when band was over,” he said. “A bunch of my friends said ‘Hey, you should do speech,’ so I did.”

Brown said he was excited and somewhat nervous for the national tournament.

“We’ve already been to one, so we’re excited to get back out there,” he said. “This is our last one this semester.”

The team typically competes in four to five tournaments a semester.

Brown said he liked the variety of events in tournaments.

“There are all different events,” he said. “With some of them you get to talk about real problems, and solutions.”

Oxford said she likes the fact that speech team prepares its participant for real life.

“These are skills we could use in the real world, when we’re looking for a job,” she said.

The performing aspect is what appealed to Mejdrich.

He said he had more choices in what he was able to perform than he did in high school.

“There’s more liberty,” he said. “There’s adults presenting in college, with adult competitors.”

Brown said high school was a more conservative environment toward what the students were allowed to perform.

“The performers didn’t cuss,” he said.

Gronstal, who has been coaching the team since 2008, said they have at least one competitor qualify for nationals.

Wednesday, the speech team performed the pieces that qualified them for nationals in their Spring Showcase.

Mejdrich went first, with an impromptu speech about by Euripides. In his speech, he addressed the idea that people should not let doubt open them up to failure by using examples of the president of Thailand and the movie “Monsters,Inc.” He also performed a persuasive speech urging listeners to speak out against social media unwittingly using their data for experiments.

Oxford and Brown performed a piece about racist undertones in the media, and Disney movies in particular titled “Mickey Mouse Monopoly.”

Oxford also performed a piece titled “The Valentine Box,” which was about a girl who get pregnant in high school, only to get left by her boyfriend, who later turns out to be gay.

Brown performed an after dinner speech he wrote about being both religious and spiritual, and the problems with homophobic churches.

At the end of the showcase, gifts of flowers, and pictures were given to Gronstal by the team, and Gronstal gave the team a Pi Kappa Delta mug, with Oxford getting a graduation cord.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].