The Glenbard West Forensics team’s journey to state


Photo courtesy of GBW Forensics.

On Saturday, February 13, the Glenbard West Forensics team took part in Sectionals.  Mrs. Gwizdala, head Forensics coach, commented that they “held [their] own under some very tough competition” and managed to place third as well as qualify for events for State. They competed in State on Saturday, February 20 with three events advancing to Finals. Their Twitter account, @GBWForensics, mentions that they are “so proud” of all the competitors who represented them at State. 

Under normal circumstances, two tournaments take place at different schools every weekend, one for novices and one for varsity members. Competitors typically compete from the long hours of 6:00 a.m., when they get on the bus, until 6:00 p.m., when they finally get home. Downtime in-between the rounds takes place in the cafeteria. When it is a competitor’s turn to present, they go in a separate room with the judges and a small audience.

Lauren Alcock, senior and qualifier for Dramatic Interpreation, explained, “We’d normally be with all the Sectionals competitors from all the schools and have the opportunity to watch each other.”  After a competition, Forensics members can resume their break or, as Mrs. Gwizdala put it, “a beautiful moment to pause time and celebrate your performance.”

This routine was unattainable this year. Thankfully, with a program called SpeechWire, tournaments are still able to proceed. Mrs. Gwizdala said, “I would just like to say how grateful I am for our school, and how supportive they’ve been; for IHSA because of how committed they’ve been in making sure speech still happens, and for our competitors, especially for the novices, who came in and had no idea what speech was and had to do it all digitally.”

Due to COVID restrictions, the Forensics team was unable to compete in-person; however, competitions were still able to continue. At first, they were asynchronous through recorded videos that were submitted to the judges. Halfway through the season, hybrid competitions became available where the first rounds were recorded, but the finals would take place live over Zoom.

For the State competition, however, it was completely live and through Zoom. Rachel Travers, sophomore qualifier for Dramatic Duet Acting, stated that this remote version was better because they “didn’t need to worry much about performance anxiety” but it was not as fun as in-person because they “didn’t get to see their friends from speech.”

Amelia Boeh, senior Poetry Reading qualifier, has a different opinion. She prefers having an audience to perform for: “It fuels me!” she explains. 

Even if they were not able to compete in-person, it did not stop the competitors from doing everything they could to succeed. IHSA had begun to allow in-person practices, which allowed for in-person coaching.  Additionally, the competitors are allowed to present in empty classrooms without a mask as long as they are the only ones using the room at that time. All proper precautions were taken to ensure the safety of both the coaches and the competitors. Mrs. Gwizdala commented, “It’s just really nice to hear people in the hallways again.”

After advancing to the final round of competition in Performance in the Round at State, Tommy Sear, Hannah Grogan, Caroline Turner, Maribella Fues, Ellie Williams, Kate Backman, and Katie Johnson advanced to Finals. Katie Johnson said she wanted to give a shout out to their “very own and deeply loved Mr. Holloway” who was their Performance in Round director: “We give him so much credit for all he does for our speech team.”

Although this was an abnormal year, the Forensics team persevered and tried their best. Their hard work paid off as they ended up with three events advancing to Finals: Amelia Boeh, 7th place in Poetry Reading, Deepa Phuyal, junior who earned 5th place in Radio Speaking, and 2nd place in Performance in Round. Congratulations to the Glenbard West Forensics team!