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Steve Sparks Memorial Tournament

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General information

This is a High School tournament in Wisconsin.

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Eau Claire North High School Forensics

1801 Piedmont Road, Eau Claire, WI 54703


Dear Coach,

We are excited to invite you and your students to celebrate Valentine’s week by participating in the sixteenth annual Steve Sparks Memorial Forensics Tournament at Eau Claire North High School on Saturday, February 11, 2023. This tournament is both WFCA and WHSFA friendly, and students may double or triple enter. The Valentine’s theme is a reflection of our love for our students, the activity of forensics, and all our dear friends involved and especially for the memory of Steve Sparks.

There will be awards for all finalists, qualitative sweepstakes awards for the top two small teams (5 – 20 entries), and sweepstakes awards for the top two large teams, based on the top 25 entries from each school.

Continuing this year, we offer the following additional awards:

  • Best Double-Entry: Top 3 (based on prelim totals)
  • Best Novice Entry: Top 3 (based on prelim totals – will use best category if double entered)

New this year: Lunch will be included in the registration fees. Additional snacks may be available for purchase.

The entry fee will be $10 per individual entry and $14 per group.  Please bring one judge for every 5 entries with a maximum of 5 affiliated (non-clean) judges per school (contact us for possible exceptions for affiliated judges).  Hired judges will be available for $20 per uncovered entry.

Registration will be through https://speechwire.com

The deadline for registration will be at 5 pm Monday, February 6th (confirm whether your school is attending).  The deadline for entries (adds/drops) will be on Thursday February 9th. Drops after this time will not reduce your fees nor reduce your judging requirements.  Checks are payable to: North High School.

Feel free to call us if you have questions.



Cole Pankratz





Scott Peterson






Chelsea Ennen

Amber Johnson

Emily Prissel



Special notes for 2023


Keep it healthy: Coaches should ensure that all students and judges are screened for illness symptoms prior to coming to the tournament.  Anyone with symptoms cannot attend.


Radio Announcing: We previously had computers available for receiving Radio materials and for editing the script.
Because North’s students now have personal devices, the computer labs are gone. Competitors may bring their own devices for Radio preparation,
and they may use the devices in the performance room for reading the script. Paper copies of the source packet will also be available.


Extemporaneous Speaking and Radio Announcing Internet use: Competitors in Extemporaneous Speaking and Radio Announcing may utilize the internet
during their preparation for research but not for communicating with people or accessing pre-written speeches or outlines.


Online ballots: All judges will be required to bring a Wi-Fi enabled portable device for receiving the judging schedule, writing critiques, and submitting ranks.


Registration limitations:

·          Unlimited number of entries are allowed in each category.

·          Double or triple entries are allowed (students may compete in multiple events).

·          Please use SpeechWire’s tools to designate which of your judges are clean (have no school or team affiliation other than you hiring them to judge) versus dirty (coaches or others close to your team). This will give us more options for scheduling judges. Each school may bring a MAXIMUM of 5* dirty judges; schools with more than 25 entries will be required to fulfill their judging quota by bringing clean judges or hiring clean judges from us.  If you have extra clean judges, you may contact us and we may hire them.
*Depending on tournament size we might allow more than 5 dirty judges.



·             The deadline for registration is 5 pm Saturday, February 4.

·             Drops after this time will not reduce your fees nor your judging requirement.

·             For the Best Novice Award, indicate which of your students are in their first year competing at the high school level.



Please keep your SpeechWire entries updated as soon as you know about changes so that we can best plan for the tournament rooms and judging needs. One student drop might mean an entire section and judge slot can be eliminated.


Tournament day drops MUST be called in on Saturday morning before your team departs for North.
If you have valuable information about which students are missing that morning, we need to know prior to your arrival so that the schedules can be adjusted to balance round sizes and make the tournament run smoothly.
Schools whose students are not transported as a team are exempt from this request. (i.e. nearby schools like EC Memorial, Regis, etc.)  REPORT ANY KNOWN CHANGES to 608 345-4556.


Finally, if your team has specific restrictions or needs, please let us know and we can work best to accommodate. We want the best tournament experience possible for all in attendance.


Tournament Schedule for February 11

The North High School main parking lot and entry doors are on the north side of the building facing Piedmont Road. Look for the giant husky dog on the roof.




5:00 / as soon as possible

Report drops or changes to Scott Peterson


7:45 – 8:15

Registration in Foyer under Husky


·       General Meeting in Auditorium for all contestants and judges (except Radio Announcers and Extempers)

·       Radio Announcers and Extempers report to Draw/Prep in IMC


Round One


Round Two


Round Three

After a brief break for lunch, the approximate times are:


Posting of Results in Commons


Final Rounds


Awards in the Auditorium





Tournament Guidelines / Category Rules


We welcome WFCA and WISDAA schools, and students may perform for the category rules for which they have prepared. To facilitate the slight differences in rules we have a basic overall philosophy: rules from either organization will be honored. If an element of a performance is allowed in either WFCA or WISDAA, it will be allowed at this tournament.


Demonstration Speaking / Expository Speaking / Informative Speaking


The WFCA made these changes this year:

  • Demonstration Speaking is no longer a category, but speeches of that style may be performed in the revised Informative Speaking.
  • Expository Speaking has been added as a category, with a 5 minute time limit and no visual aids permitted. Notes are permitted and unrestricted.
  • Informative Speaking has been changed from 6 minutes to 10 minutes, visual aids may be worn, and the Criteria for Evaluation subpoints were rewritten. Notes are permitted and unrestricted.

How to register students in these categories at the Steve Sparks Tournament:

For students who have prepared for the WISDAA category of Demonstration Speaking (10 minutes with visual aids, one notecard optional), they should be entered in Informative Speaking, and 2-person entries are allowed and will count as a single entry (not a group category) for registration fees.

For students who have prepared for the WISDAA category of Informative Speaking (6 minutes, visual aids optional, one notecard optional), they may be entered in either:

Expository Speaking for which we will have a time limit of 6 minutes, visual aids allowed, and notes permitted


Informative Speaking which will follow WFCA rules with a 10 minute time limit, visual aids allowed, and notes permitted

Some other examples of blending the rules include:


1.         Group Interpretive Reading and Play Acting will have 12 minute time limits.

2.         One 4x6 note card will be permitted in Oratory. For other categories that allow notes, they will have no specific limits, formats, or dimensions.

3.         There will be no separate Public Address event, but students in Public Address can be entered in Oratory, and the judges will be alerted to this.

4.         Chairs, etc. MAY be used in Solo and Group Interp. Optional speaker’s / reader’s stand may be used in the categories involving scripts or notes.

5.         Storytelling: the order of the stories will be set by random draw the morning of the tournament at the opening meeting. For each round, everyone will be presenting the same story category.


*For the WFCA rules, go to https://wfcaforensics.org
*For the WISDAA rules, go to https://wisdaa.org


A word about Steve Sparks . . .


Steve was our assistant coach and an alumnus of the North High School Forensics program.  Steve died unexpectedly on August 2, 2007, due to a pulmonary embolism at the age of 26.  He had been planning to attend law school.


He came in every day, Monday through Friday, for seven months out of the year to coach for us.  For three years, he was a volunteer – we paid him almost nothing.  He was the gentle giant who ran our Radio and Extemp draw.  He also judged for us and traveled with us on all of our trips.


It is in honor of our dear friend, mentor, coach, and colleague that we have decided to name our tournament the Steve Sparks Memorial Forensics Tournament.  If you knew Steve at all, then you know what we have lost and you understand how lost we are without him.


Manager contact information

Cole Pankratz
Email address: cpankratz@ecasd.us
Phone number: 7158526778

Mailing address

1801 Piedmont Rd
Eau Claire, WI 54703

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