Thundering Word Speech and Debate Team to compete in Germany

Members of Marshall University’s Thundering Word Speech and Debate Team will travel to Germany this weekend to compete in their first international tournament. 

Five students on the Thundering Word team will be traveling to Berlin to compete in the International Forensics Association Tournament next week, said Clara Adkins, director of forensics at Marshall.

“I believe that our department, our college and the university recognizes and appreciates the performance that our team is giving, and so we received backing from everyone to seek fundraising activities to make this happen,” Adkins said. 

The Thundering Word team did a letter campaign, reaching out to individuals that members and telling them of this “excellent opportunity,” Adkins said. Marshall’s Foundation Hall was also involved and reached out to Marshall donors, she said.

“There is an international tournament every year, but this is Marshall’s first,” Adkins said. “It’s very expensive, and I don’t think it was ever really pursued as an option (in the past), but we got this lovely letter that said ‘Congratulations on your team’s impressive performance this past season. As a program who’s achieved a high level of recognition in your country, we cordially invite your students to join us in Berlin.’”

Among the competitors going on the trip will be Student Body President Hunter Barclay, who has been part of the Thundering Word team for four years.

Barclay said he thinks this will be a special opportunity for the team and is grateful for the opportunity as a senior because he will get to have what he considers a memorable trip and competition experience with his teammates. 

“I’m excited to do an international tournament,” Barclay said. “This is a rare opportunity for the team to be able to travel outside of the country, for some of us, some members on the team, it will be their first time going outside of the United States, and I think it’s important to be able to go outside of the country, see other competitors from throughout the globe and be able to share our messages.”

Whenever individuals travel outside of the United States, they learn about the people and cultures of the places they are visiting, Barclay said. He said members of the Thundering Word will also be able to learn from competitors who will be at the tournament from other countries.

“I think what’s important about it is that we’re going to learn communication and that communication is something that, it’s needed in a globalized world,” Barclay said. “We’ve always expressed our messages in the borders of the United States, but being able to go outside of the country and share those messages with other people, we’ll be able to understand how they not only communicate verbally, where there might be differences in our languages, but nonverbally, which is a mass development of any communication.”

In addition to competing, the Thundering Word team will also have the opportunity to go sightseeing during the trip, Adkins said. She said she believes it is a privilege for the team to be able to explore this other culture and history, and a lot of people will never get the opportunity to travel abroad unless it is through school. 

For several members of the Thundering Word, Germany is a top pick of countries to visit, Adkins said. Team members are “ecstatic” to be going to Germany for the tournament, she said, and she thinks it is an interesting country where there is a lot of history to be learned. 

Adkins said she hopes this will not be the Thundering Word team’s last experience going to the international tournament, and the team will be able to continue attending it in the future. She said she feels really good going into the competition, with the team coming off of a “huge win” at the state tournament and thinks that energy and positive feeling will help the team in the international tournament. 

Jesten Richardson can be contacted at [email protected]