By Trent Tetzlaff
As one of five graduating seniors on the UW-Eau Claire forensics team, Elijah Freeman will be missed.
Freeman helped lead his team to a 12th place finish at the National Forensics Association tournament, a 17th place finish at the American Forensics Association tournament and was selected to represent UW-Eau Claire and Wisconsin at the Interstate Oratory Contest last week. After four years on the team though, Freeman’s participation as a competitor has come to an end.
More than anything that came with the competition, whether it was the trophies or the national recognition, Freeman said what he will miss the most is how tight-knit the team was.
“I will miss the camaraderie of the team and spending time with my teammates and my wonderful coaches Karen Morris and Kelly Jo Wright,” he said. “I think what I enjoyed the most was the people and all the memories and good times we shared.”
Freeman isn’t the only alumnus of the program that felt a close connection to the program after his time was over on the stage though.
Director of Forensics, Karen Morris said that a large number of alumni continue to support the program year after year because of what it did for them as people. She said these alumni travel with the team and even help students prepare for tournaments, working around their own busy schedules.
“We always have amazing alumni support and this year we took five of them with us to nationals,” she said. “They play a big part in helping build up the team and continue to work with the kids, every year it will be that way.”
This season, which was Morris’s 19th with the team saw a group that was extremely top-heavy with experience she said.
The team geared the season for the five seniors to be able to thrive, but realized by the end of year that they needed more than just those five to win state and do well at nationals.
“At state is when we had a big team meeting and that’s when I told them I needed three things from this team,” she said. “I needed three trophies, the championship trophy from state, I needed a trophy from AFA and I needed a trophy from NFA, and people stepped up and we brought back the trophies.”
Morris said she was satisfied with the team’s performance overall this season as they won their 32nd consecutive state championship and placed in the top 20 at both national tournaments.
The team will replace the five seniors with eight new freshmen, which Morris said is a really large incoming class for the program, meaning that next season will most likely be a rebuilding year.
In this year of rebuilding, Morris said the upperclassmen on the team will have to step up, including sophomore Sydney Tupy, to help guide the team to nationals once again, especially since Eau Claire will be the host of next year’s NFA tournament.
Freeman said he has no doubts that the winning legacy of Eau Claire forensics will continue far into the future because of the team’s deep history and strong coaching staff.
“I think the future of the team is bright because like I said, we have wonderful coaches who know their stuff,” he said. “They have been great at their jobs long before I came to Eau Claire and will continue that legacy long after I leave.”
Have any memories regarding the UW-Eau Claire forensics team? Feel free to drop a comment below.