The Jensens, Friends, and Winning Tournaments

The JensensST. LOUIS (MAR. 28, 2017) – It’s not unusual for the Webster University forensic and debate team to compete in tournaments and come home with many praiseworthy and prize-winning performances. They predated the chess club as perennial tournament winners. It’s also not unusual for their alumni to stay involved with the team and to continue to be recognized for their achievements.

What was unusual about the Pi Kappa Delta (PKD) National Tournament this past week, hosted by Boise State University, was that Scott Jensen was not a member of the coaching staff. Instead, the recently appointed director of forensics and debate and former PKD national president, Gina Jensen, and assistant coach, adjunct faculty member, and former PKD national council member, Tom Serfass, had those responsibilities.

Scott Jensen, School of Communications professor of sports communication and speech communication studies and the former director of forensics and debate, was nevertheless, still involved in the tournament. This year, he completed his last year as the PKD National Tournament Director. He had previously directed 14 national PKD tournaments since 1999.

According to Gina Jensen, their "dear friend Robert Markstrom" and Scott "made an incredible team" planning tournaments, with each doing their respective parts.

The tournament more than doubled in size during Jensen's tenure as director. Not wanting to let him go so easily, Jensen was appointed to a four year term on the PKD National Council as editor of The Forensic of Pi Kappa Delta, the honor society’s refereed academic journal, one of the oldest and most important academic journals in forensics and debate.

Jensen considered this tournament a special one. “It was the first time I attended a national tournament without having a team to coach. It was inspiring, having watched the evolution of this team over the year. Gina directed the program with less help and more students throughout the season. She increased expectations and inspired a group of new and veteran students to come together. Tom was an incredible assistant, making the two of them a great team. I am proud beyond words of what these students accomplished.” Jensen said.

Boise State University hosted the Pi Kappa Delta (PKD) National Tournament last week. The tournament featured 70 schools and over 2,000 entries across 24 different speaking, performance, and debate events and will likely be the largest tournament in the country this year.Forensics & Debate 2017

MacLain Naumann winning a national championship in Prose Interpretation was a highlight of the Webster University forensic and debate team successes. Naumann is a two-time national champion in this event, having also won the event in last year’s tournament.

Olivia Potter and Bre Shinell placed second in the nation in Novice Parliamentary Debate. Wins also included three team sweepstakes awards with the Gorloks finishing among the top 15 schools in each category—Individual Events, Debate and Combined Overall. In order to win a sweepstakes award, each student’s performance is given quality points. 

Webster competed against schools of all sizes, ranging from large public universities to smaller private colleges. Results are categorized not only by placings, but also by “superior” and “excellent” awards that fall within the top 30 percent of the field in each event. Webster’s competitive results beyond Naumann’s national championship and the debate runners up award include several awards.

They include:

  • Individual Event Sweepstakes, Excellent
  • Debate Sweepstakes, Excellent
  • Combined Sweepstakes, Excellent
  • MacLain Naumann, National Champion, Prose Interpretation
  • Olivia Potter & Bre Shinell, 2nd place, Novice Parliamentary Debate
  • MacLain Naumann, Showcase Performance, Prose Interpretation
  • Eva Moentmann, Showcase Performance, Dramatic Interpretation
  • Kelli MacLaughlin, Showcase Performance, Literary Criticism
  • Eva Moentmann, 9th place, Dramatic Interpretation
  • Kirby Weber, 10th place, After-Dinner Speaking
  • Kelli MacLaughlin, 11th place, Literary Criticism
  • Eva Moentmann and MacLain Naumann, 15th place, Duo Interpretation
  • Olivia Potter & Bre Shinell, Superior, Novice Parliamentary Debate
  • MacLain Naumann, Excellent, Broadcast Journalism
  • MacLain Naumann, Excellent, Dramatic Interpretation
  • Alex Kimbrough, Excellent, Prose Interpretation
  • Angela Meng, Excellent, Poetry Interpretation

Alumnus Deanna Beaton (class of 2010) also won the Alumni Public Address competition.

Beyond their competitive success, Webster University received additional recognition to reinforce its status as a critical school within the honor society. Alumnus Shawn Hoover (class of 2012) received the Order of Attainment, similar to a Hall of Fame recognition, for non-forensic educators. The award recognizes distinguished service and use of forensic and debate skills outside of forensic and debate education. Hoover received the award for his work as a public defender and advocate for incarcerated individuals in Georgia.

Elected as an At-Large Student Representative to the Pi Kappa Delta’s national council, Olivia Potter, a sophomore and international relations major, will serve a two-year term as one of the governing officials of the organization.Scott Jensen at Podium

Tom Serfass was elected Governor to the Province of the Heartland (PKD is broken up into Provinces which are similar to districts).

In addition to their other responsibilities, Webster University’s forensic and debate coaches served on the national tournament staff. Gina Jensen served as a member of the individual event tabulation committee. Tom Serfass coordinated limited preparation event draw.

Scott Jensen “was humbled by the emotions connected with directing [his] last national tournament after directing 14 of them since 1999. The recognition I received from the National Council and both colleagues and friends was very meaningful.”

While this surely is a bittersweet time for Scott Jensen as he continues his transition out of major leadership roles in forensics and debate here at Webster University and at tournaments around the country, he has prepared his team well.

Congratulations to Scott Jensen, Gina Jensen, Tom Serfass, and the incredible Webster University Forensics and Debate team for their success in this tournament!

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