September 21, 2017

Updated: Webster forensics and debate takes home national awards

March was a big month  for Webster University’s Forensics and Debate Team.

During March 21-25, the team participated in the 2017 Pi Kappa Delta Biennial National Tournament and Convention. Alumnus Shawn Hoover was inducted into the Order of Attainment in recognition of his contributions to Pi Kappa Delta over the years. For former coach Scott Jensen, this was his fourteenth and final tournament as tournament director.

Team member MacLain Naumann became a two-time national champion with another first-place finish in the Prose Interpretation category. The team also won the greatest number of awards in three categories.

“It’s sort of been a bittersweet year,” Jensen said. “I’ve enjoyed putting this together, but I’ve got mixed emotions knowing it’s my last one.”

Jensen’s first tournament was in 1999 (the tournament is not annual). At this point, he said, it is time to turn over the position and let somebody else find new and better ways of doing things.

Jensen  said he is excited because stepping away from tournament direction will allow him to devote more time to his family and some professional projects. Jensen stepped away from the forensics program in 2016 and is working on building the new major of sports communication.

“It lets me move into some new and fresh directions,” Jensen said.

In terms of tournament direction, new forensics coach Gina Jensen will not be taking over for Scott (her husband). A new director has already been appointed.

Webster was one of 74 schools in attendance. Over the years, Gina estimated that Webster has received 11 All-Americans and between 22 and 24 national championships.

“This is sort of the tournament that we gear up for all year,” Gina said. “We plan everything around being ready and doing well at nationals.”

With it being Scott’s last year, Gina said many alumni are driving and flying from all over the country to come to Boise to see him off. However, this is not totally unusual. Gina said for every tournament, a group of alumni get together to go. Pi Kappa Delta is a lifelong fellowship.

Shawn Hoover

Hoover is one of these alums. Due to work, he was not able to go to the tournament, but he said that just because fellow alums leave Webster does not mean they leave the team. Often, alums will coach and mentor current team members and will even sit in as judges in tournaments. He said being a part of Pi Kappa Delta has always been more of a family to him than a team.

Hoover lives in Georgia now, after earning a law degree, so he has not been able to work with Webster students like he used to. Currently, he is working with high school students and college-aged individuals and for the past few years has worked with the Douglas County High School mock trial team. For him to get this induction, he said he is extremely honored.

“When I first found out I was going to be inducted into the Order of Attainment, I was speechless. Then when I found out I would only be the second alum from Webster to be inducted, I was floored,” Hoover said.

Hoover regularly gives presentations based on the legal system, sits on panels at elementary schools, high schools and colleges through volunteer work with the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Division and spends time working in jails and prisons.

Growing up, Hoover did not have the easiest life. His time at Webster and with Pi Kappa Delta turned that around.

“I went from sleeping in homeless shelters and backseats of cars to arguing death penalty trials in front of judges, and I owe that all to Pi Kappa Delta,” Hoover said.

The word both Jensens use is “bittersweet.”  Gina said the transition of coaches from Scott to her has been great.

“As a team, we’re just going to go and gear up and hopefully bring back a number of awards,” Gina said before the tournament.

Gina is happy for Scott to be moving on, but knows how different it will be without him as tournament director because she said it was always a labor of love for him.

Webster’s Forensics and Debate Team walked away from the tournament with three sweepstakes awards and a number of individual awards.

“It was the first time I attended a national tournament without having a team to coach,” Scott said. “It was inspiring, having watched the evolution of this team over the year.”

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