Former Morris Community High School speech team members Lauren Galloway and Jeremy Murphy recently competed in the American Forensics Association National Championship in Arizona.
“Both Lauren and Jeremy were important to MCHS Redskin speech as both competitors and leaders,” former speech coach Andrea Gustafson said. “Finals at nationals is huge and something to my knowledge, Morris has never done before.”
Galloway joined speech as a freshman at Morris High School, and by her senior year, she knew it was something she didn’t want to stop doing.
“I knew as a senior in high school that I wasn’t ready to be done with this activity, this community and this culture,” Galloway said. “So as I was looking into colleges, speech team was pretty high on my list of priorities.”
Galloway attends Bradley University and is a sophomore competing on the school’s speech team.
Galloway said you have to qualify to attend AFA in each individual event, and then each team is only allowed to take 66 different speeches. For her coaching staff, that meant deciding who went because they had more qualify than they were allowed to enter.
She said that in college she feels the events are judged more on the message you are delivering rather than how flawless your delivery is.
“Delivery is still very important in college. I just really appreciate how college forensics seems to look farther beyond the surface level and focuses on the intent and the message of the speaker,” Galloway said.
Galloway competed in the event “After Dinner Speaking” and finished third in the nation for the event.
Murphy didn’t get on the speech wagon as early as Galloway, as he joined the team when he was a junior.
“I know he and I both wish he had joined sooner. In those two years, he did very well, winning tournaments and even co-directing our ‘Performance in the Round’ at regionals and sectionals,” Gustafson said.
Murphy also took into consideration his choice of college based on his love of speech team and was accepted at Illinois State University, where he is a senior.
“I had zero clue that college forensics even existed in high school; I just thought speech ended after high school,” Murphy said. “But some of my friends went to ISU speech camp, and they always talked about how much fun they had and the amazing performers that ISU had, so I knew I wanted to apply to ISU and check it out and I fell in love.”
He worked hard to be able to compete in the event “Persuasion” at AFA. This is his third time in his college career competing at nationals.
“To go to AFA, you need to break into at least three final rounds during the regular tournament season. With those three final rounds, your placings in those finals need to equal eight or less,” Murphy said. “For example, I qualified my persuasion for AFA by placing first, third and fourth at three separate tournaments.”
Murphy is leaving ISU this year and heading to San Diego State University this fall to work on his master’s degree, and he plans to work with that school’s forensics program.
“Speech has given me a voice. I know how to articulate my opinion and [it] helped me tremendously in every single one of my classes,” he said. “Speech has taught me that I know how to make anything matter.”
Murphy finished fifth in the nation for his “Persuasion” performance in Arizona.
Gustafson said both Galloway and Murphy have returned to Morris High School to coach and help the Morris speech team.
“They will always be members of Redskin Speech,” Gustafson said.