Pratt High School sent two qualifiers and one coach to Nebraska for an opportunity they won't soon forget.
This past weekend, May 9th-12th, Katie and Emma Strobel (seniors at Pratt High School) attended and competed in NIETOC, the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions. This annual competitive forensics event celebrates the best of high school speech and performance and of the spoken word.
While the Strobel twins didn’t make it past three preliminary rounds in a field of 106 duets, they had an awe-inspiring experience. With opening ceremonies and workshops at Embassy Suites in LaVista, Nebraska, and competition at Millard North High School in Omaha, the event pulled national qualifiers from across the U.S. to compete and learn from one another. The group from Pratt High School included coach Rose Beilman (myself), the Strobel sisters, and former PHS student Laurisa McAbee who judged at the competition. Every team had to bring a certain number of judges, based on how many entries brought from the school.
The whole experience brought inspiration and insight to the Pratt High group.
We started out Friday with opening ceremonies where three speakers — either national champions or coaches of national teams - spoke, and it was inspiring to hear their messages. They reminded students to live out the following as speakers and performers:
Read, Read, Read
Repeat ( preparation, practice, and performance)
Revise after Reflection
That message resonated with all of us..
Friday morning we attended workshops for forensics, where Katie and Emma learned about collegiate forensics and where I learned more about coaching nationals-level duos and informative speeches.
Friday afternoon the competition began, and wow, it was exciting to experience: around 900 entries of the best of the best competing from across the U.S. in duet, duo, informative speaking, oration, dramatic solo, and humorous solo.
- Saturday, preliminaries continued, and by the end of the day, while Katie and Emma were disappointed that they didn’t make it to octafinals, they felt that the experience was life-changing.
In reflection, for me as a coach, the most rewarding part of the event was watching how Katie and Emma encouraged others and how they became part of a group of students who demonstrate excellence in their work ethic. These students were amazing. Not only was every performance at an incredibly high level, but the students and coaches were supportive of each other even as they competed. Being among these students and coaches made me incredibly proud of forensics as an activity and of Katie and Emma for their willingness to step outside their comfort zone to compete at the national level.