The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s MavForensics competitive speech team was named the best team in the state for the second year in a row.
Four of the top 25 forensics teams in the country are located in the state of Nebraska. Abbie Syrek is the head coach of MavForensics. She said the culture of the team leads to winning tournaments.
“We are a smaller team but with that comes a tight-knit community that cares about each other,” Syrek said. “We have a disadvantage when it comes to the size of our team, but our spirit to compete and our care for each other really makes the difference.”
The main challenge the MavForensics team faces is: while many schools boast up to 30 competitors at a tournament, they have 15. In order to win, each member of the team must compete at a high level. Catie Zaleski is a senior studying international studies. She said each member of the team is driven to compete.
“We formally practice together once a week, and the rest of the week it’s on you to practice,” Zaleski said. “We have coaches, graduate teaching assistants and fellow teammates that are willing to take the time to help you improve and be the best you can be.”
According to the team, the average schedule for a MavForensics student includes working Monday through Thursday and competing Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Many of our students work full-time, and go to school and compete,” Syrek said. “If a student becomes overwhelmed, I make sure to sit down with them, schedule out the week and what can possibly be cut to make the students life easier.”
For 2015-2016, MavForensics anticipated a transition year as many students graduated and a lot of new faces were on the team. Because of the culture of passion for competing and care for each other, each freshman and sophomore are competing on the national level.
While practice makes perfect, Syrek admits that the community within the team leads to success.
“All of our team are friends and they genuinely care about each other,” Syrek said. “They mentor each other and often times when I see a student’s personal growth, their performance confidence also grows.”
When Zaleski was a freshman, she was mentored by teammates to become the competitor she is today.
“High school was a lot different from college forensics because, in college, you are truly going up against professionals,” Zaleski said. “Luckily my high school coach was MavForensics alumni and prepared me for what lied ahead. As a freshman, the seniors on the team helped me adjust to competing at the college level.”
The team has three regular season tournaments to go be-fore going to nationals. The team will compete at the 2016 AFA-NIET, which takes place from April 2-4 in Gainesville, Florida.
Once the season is done, they will be hosting The Interstate Oratorical Association, college forensics oldest oratorical tournament.