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Back to the Nest

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General information

This is a College tournament in Illinois.

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Dear Friends,

The Illinois State University Forensics Union and the Illinois State Forensics Alumni are pleased to invite you and your team to participate in the third annual and first virtual Back to the Nest on October 10, 2020. This tournament will feature two parts:  1) a fully synchronous IE tournament on Saturday October 10 (team awards to be mailed), and 2) an asynchronous experimental event tournament to be held during the week (videos to be due with your entries, monetary awards). 

Founded in 1857, the ISU Forensics Union is the oldest student organization at Illinois State University.  We have a long history of recruiting bright and capable members and honorary members – our roster boasts Abraham Lincoln (debate judge and honorary alumnus), UN Ambassadors, actors, journalists, doctors, lawyers and education professionals.  Our alumni continue to embody Illinois State’s motto, “Gladly we Learn and Teach,” and have requested this tournament as an opportunity to bring these Redbirds “Back to the (Virtual) Nest” to re-connect with the speech circuit.  Our hope is that we can provide you with valuable fall semester ballots and maybe connect you with ISU alumni in your area who can be an ongoing resource.  We sincerely hope you will join us in this endeavor.

The “Back to the (Virtual) Nest” offers you and your students quality Open and Novice competition in all AFA and NFA Individual Events.  This invitation should provide all of the necessary tournament information, but please call or email if we can be of any further assistance.

We hope to see you in October!


Hananiah Wiggins (Class of 2015) and Megan Koch (DoF, Class of 2003)


Asynchronous Portion: 

Participants should be enrolled undergraduate students and members of their school’s forensics team.  Submissions must be no more than 3 minutes in length (no minimum).  Topics and literature must not be performed in another event or used in any competition prior to September 2020. We are allowing editing, camera angles, lighting, filters, music - you have 3 minutes, make it compelling.  CDC guidelines must be followed while filming - if two people are in the frame, wear your masks and stay over 6 feet apart. The tournament will share finalists’ videos on social media, so waivers must be signed and returned with your entry to be considered by judges.  After the tournament ends, all participants are encouraged to share their videos as much as they would like!  Because we are sharing it broadly on social media, please keep submissions clean and PG-rated (or creatively bleep if you want). 

Competitors may enter no more than two of the following:

  • 3 Minute Original Interp - Definition of original is original. You wrote it. By yourself. Not an adaptation of your prose from last year. Just you and your wonderful brain. Lit written by a teammate or friend is not original in this context.  
  • 3 Minute Soapbox - any issue that isn’t getting enough attention, doesn’t quite have enough info to fill 9 minutes, or your coach straight up said no to.  What is the hill you want to die on?  You’ve got three minutes to tell us all about it.  Structure can be informative or persuasive.
  • 3 Minute Current Events - These speeches should be analytical in nature (if you have a rant, consider submitting it as a soapbox speech; this might not be your event).  This is your chance to start developing your news pundit audition reel. Students will write and answer their own question on a facet of one of the following topics (should be fairly recent and include sources published between 9/22/20-10/6/20):
    • Elections 
    • Celebrity rivalries
    • Social justice and human rights
    • COVID-19
    • Sports
    • Economics
    • RGB and/or SCOTUS
    • International concerns that we missed because the U.S. is LITERALLY on fire.
    • Wildfires

Judges and Fees: Entries for this portion will be free for all students who also enter in the synchronous portion (max 2 free asynch entries).  For students who don’t enter in the synchronous portion, the fee is $5 per video submitted; max of 2 per student.  We are not asking that schools supply judges for this portion, but if any school judges are interested, we will welcome their voluntary participation.  

Awards will be monetary and amounts will be announced after entries are received.

Please provide unlisted YouTube links for asynchronous videos with your entry - they are due to Speechwire by 5pm CST Tuesday October 6.

Synchronous Portion:

Entries:  The synchronous tournament will focus on the 11 AFA / NFA IE events. Each student may enter a maximum of four synchronous events; no more than two per grouping.  There is no limit on the amount of entries a school may enter per event; however, for schools with larger entries we may have to artificially move competitors to utilize judges from that school.  The deadline for receiving entries for both parts of the tournament  is 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 6.  No adds will be accepted after this time.  Drops will be accepted after the deadline without penalty until 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 7.  Entries for both parts should be submitted to Speechwire.com.

IE Judges & Fees: Entry fees are $8.00 per entry slot (no additional charge for entering quadrathon).  A nuisance fee of $6.00 per slot will be added to the original entry fee for every drop after 12:00pm on Wednesday, October 7.  No-shows on the day of the tournament will be charged a $15.00 nuisance fee per slot in addition to the original entry fee.  

Each school should furnish one judge for every six slots.  Hired judges are available at $10.00 per uncovered slot.  Judges dropped after the Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. deadline will result in a nuisance fee of $25.00 each plus the additional cost of hiring a judge.  ALL fees are assessed as of 12:00 p.m., Wednesday October 7.  Due to the difficulties of maintaining a pool of high-quality hired judges, we strongly encourage every school to bring at least one judge.  All “full-time” judges are on standby for finals - as always, we will make every effort to collapse final rounds to a single flight if the judging pool allows.

Quadrathon:  Students entered in at least four synchronous events including at least one from two different genres (interpretation/public address/limited preparation) will be eligible for the quadrathon awards.  Novice finals will not count toward open quadrathon, but if entries warrant we will present Novice Individual Sweepstakes awards.

Novice Events:  A separate novice division will be created in each individual event where we have at least 10 novice entries. A novice is a student who is in their first year of collegiate competition OR has competed in three or fewer collegiate tournaments OR is a competitor for a community college or 2-year school.

Sectioning:   We will use Speechwire to take all entries, section rounds, assign judges and tabulate scores. 

Competition: This tournament will take place via Zoom. All participants should have a Zoom account and a reliable internet connection. If possible, final rounds will be livestreamed. 

Awards:  The top six contestants in each event will advance to open finals and receive awards.  The top three quadrathon entries will receive awards based on final rounds. Sweepstakes trophies will be awarded to the top five schools, and an award will be presented for Limited Entry Sweepstakes (if entries warrant, the top three limited entry schools will receive awards).  In open finals, winning first place earns 12 points…and sixth place earns two points.  Other open finalists, and all open semifinalists, will earn 1 point each. In novice final rounds, winning first place earns 6 points … and sixth place earns 1 point.  

Illinois State Competitors:  ISU students will be competing, and will pay entry fees, but entries will be limited. 


General:   All programs and speeches must not have been used in competition prior to September 1, 2020.   A novice is a student who is in their first year of collegiate competition OR has competed in three or fewer collegiate tournaments. Competitors must be undergraduates working on their first degree.  

NFA event descriptions will be used for all events; both tournaments will use AFA-style speaker points and tie breaks (except majority of 1s in finals).  

Impromptu:  “Prompts will include ideas that can be comprehended and interpreted quickly such as quotations, both actual (from history or contemporary culture) and fictional (from movies, plays, novels etc.), song lyrics, proverbs, etc."  We will not use images or objects in Impromptu. 

Extemp: Draw will take place on Zoom; instructions will be sent to coaches by Wednesday October 7.  Topic areas may include, but are not limited to: Domestic Politics, Domestic Social, International or Domestic Economics, International Hotspots, or Social Justice Issues.



Extemporaneous Speaking

Informative Speaking

Persuasive Speaking

Impromptu Speaking

Duo Interpretation

Dramatic Interpretation

Prose Interpretation

Communication Analysis

Program Oral Interpretation

Poetry Interpretation

After Dinner Speaking



TENTATIVE SCHEDULE  (any changes will be noted on the Speechwire schedule).

October 10, 2020  All times are CST.  

9:00 am


9:30 am

Extemp Draw

9:45 am  

Round 1A (Per, Duo, ADS, Pro, POI)

10:00 am

Round 1 Extemp

11:30 am

Extemp Draw

11:45 am

Round 2A

12:00 pm

Round 2 Extemp

1:00 pm

Lunch break

2:00 pm

Round 1B (Imp, Poe, Info, CA, DI)

3:15 pm

Round 2B

4:30 pm

Extemp Draw

4:45 pm

Finals A 

5:00 pm

Finals Extemp

6:00 pm

Finals B




Manager contact information

Megan Koch & Hananiah Wiggins
Email address: mkoch@ilstu.edu
Phone number: 309-287-0652

Mailing address

Campus Box 4480
Normal, IL 61790

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