McKendree University Speech and Debate Team Kicks off Fall Competition with Virtual Debates

(LEBANON, Ill., November 8, 2021) – The McKendree University speech and debate team has competed in a handful of virtual tournaments so far this fall, taking home a total of 17 awards.

McKendree opened its season with a virtual debate tournament hosted by Rice University on Sept. 25 and 26. While the Bearcats did not advance to the final rounds, they did win three of the top five speaker awards: Kyle Smith won first place, Noah Marlar placed fourth and Jamari Jackson placed fifth.

The season continued on Oct. 2 and 3 when McKendree competed in two virtual speech tournaments, hosted by Illinois State University and James Madison University, respectively. Jayden Touchette took home four individual awards at Illinois State University, including third place in programmed oral interpretation (POI), fifth place in impromptu speaking, sixth place in extemporaneous speaking and first place in individual sweepstakes. Touchette also placed second in duo with teammate Rayn Nauert, who also took third in poetry and seventh in drama. At James Madison University, Touchette also finished fifth in impromptu speaking and sixth in POI.

The Bearcats recently competed in a virtual tournament hosted by El Camino College on Oct. 15, 16 and 17. In debate, Smith and Touchette finished as quarterfinalists and were also the third and fifth place speakers, respectively. In speech, Nauert took second place in POI while Touchette placed third in POI, fourth in prose and fifth in extemporaneous speaking.

This season has certainly been a difficult if not somber one for the Bearcats following the unexpected passing of Zach Schneider, the team’s assistant coach since 2017.

“Zach was a brilliant coach and never failed to share his enthusiasm for debate,” said McKendree debate director Joe Blasdel. “While he will be sorely missed, he continues to be an inspiration to our students and they will continue to benefit from their experience with him.”

Schneider was recently recognized as the recipient of the Sharmi Doshi Award by the University of California at Berkeley, which recognizes a person who empowers women, people of color or other people who have been underrepresented in the debate community.

McKendree University’s speech and debate team will return to in-person competitions on November 6-7 when they take on Bradley University.




Speech and Debate Team Fall 2021

Front row, l-r: the late Zach Schneider, Mitch Deleel (volunteer coach), Rebecca Postula (volunteer coach), Taylor Roth, Rayn Nauert.

Back row, l-r: Brent Nicholson, Emma McIlhargie, Aaron Brown, Kyle Smith, Noah Marlar, Kyle Dailor, Naya Busbea, Jayden Touchette.

Not pictured: Jamari Jackson.