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K-State Today

May 5, 2014

Communication faculty serve on national speech tournament staff, receive recognition

Submitted by Tamra Patterson

Over the course of the school year, more than 300 college and university speech teams compete to qualify for the prestigious American Forensics Association-National Individual Events Tournament, or AFA-NIET.

Two K-State communication study faculty members were selected to serve on the tournament staff.  Craig Brown, director of forensics, chaired the committee tasked with writing the 112 extemporaneous speaking questions on current events and the administering the prep room for the event. This is the 21st time he's had this honor.

Darren Epping, instructor in communication studies and the assistant director of forensics, was a first time tournament staff member assisting in the tabulation procedures for three different events representing almost 400 entries.

This year the speech national championship was hosted by Arizona State University April 4-7. More than 80 schools were good enough to qualify for the tournament, which had more than 500 students competing with more than 1,500 entries.

The tournament director, Larry Schnoor, professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato selects his staff based on recommendations from coaches across the nation. For speech coaches, it is considered an honor to work the tournament.

The American Forensics Association-National Individual Events Tournament also recognizes young coaches for their contribution to the activity and classroom.

On April 7, Epping, was honored with the tournament's 2014 Young Coach Award. Based on nominations from his peers and students where he has coached — at Miami University in Ohio, University of Nebraska and K-State — Epping earned the award for his work both as a coach and a resource for his fellow coaches.

The tournament gives this award to coaches in the early years of their career who's peers have identified as worthy of recognition for their coaching/teaching accomplishments and future potential. Epping has coached numerous national finalists and national champions and has helped K-State finish in the Top 20 every year he has been on staff.