Broncolope forensics tournament strengthens bonds between competitors

University of Nebraska Kearney students man the judges table during the second day of the Broncolope tournament. UNK cohosts the tournament with Hastings College, and each school is in charge of running one day of the weekend-long competition. PHOTO BY MALLORY GRUBEN.
University of Nebraska Kearney students man the judges’ table during the second day of the Broncolope tournament. UNK co-hosts the tournament with Hastings College, and each school is in charge of running one day of the weekend-long competition. PHOTO BY MALLORY GRUBEN.

The Hastings College forensics team co-hosted an “Inside Out” themed Broncolope tournament on Saturday and Sunday Nov. 19-20. The tournament, traditionally held in the Morrison-Reeves Science Center, arose from a partnership between HC and the University of Nebraska Kearney and is now in its fourth year.

The Broncolope is a swing style tournament in which two full days of competition occur in the same weekend. This structure provides more opportunity for students to receive accolades that may help them qualify for the national tournament in April.

“It’s more time consuming for everybody, but it’s also more beneficial based on budget because you don’t have to travel to so many different places to capitalize on [ranking for qualification],” said Aaron Blackman, director of forensics for UNK.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln dominated the tournament, placing first as a team both days.  Hastings College placed fifth on Saturday and second on Sunday. Blackman awarded the top three teams of the day with board games for their team room, and the top three “sweepstakes teams” with handcrafted pottery donated by Duke Ceramics.

Forensics students ran the tournament; HC students oversaw the first day of competition, and UNK students the second. The students collaborated with their directors and coaches to organize food, judges, ballots, tab cards and the tournament theme.

“This time I got to see how a tournament works behind the scenes, and that makes you appreciate all the work that goes on at other tournaments throughout the year,” said Carly Spotts-Falzone, HC’s student director for the Broncolope tournament.

Though structured much like the other competitions in the region, the Broncolope is unique in that it fosters camaraderie between the schools in attendance. Most notably, the tournament includes an informal game night for students to network with their peers outside the realm of competition.

“Students are able to get out of their suits, pantyhose and heels and really connect with one another on a much more practical, human level,” said Kittie Grace, director of forensics at Hastings College. “That is different; not many other tournaments do that anymore.”

The “family feel” carried over into the final awards night as most of the prizes were donated to the Broncolope by HC community members with ties to the forensics team.

“What’s different about our tournament awards is that past and current HC forensics competitors create the artwork that is used for prizes. You don’t really see that at any other tournament,” said Mandie Cox, HC forensics member.

The Broncolope tournament found its start four years ago during Blackman’s first year working at Kearney.  Blackman, a graduate of HC and a former student of Grace’s, helped to coordinate a tournament that would connect two forensics teams that historically shared bonds between student members. The tournament’s name derived from a combination of each school’s mascots.

“We created it to really merge the two and kind of be about friendship and being close together with speech,” Blackman said.

The “home court advantage” of the tournament allows teams members who are unable to travel a chance to compete, said Grace, and the Hastings College team is much larger at its home tournament than it is elsewhere.

The location of the tournament is also beneficial for UNK, among other schools, as it provides a closely located tournament late in the fall semester.

“It was a marriage of utility, where we didn’t have a tournament that was close in November…We needed something on the schedule to be able to help Nebraska teams have an opportunity to compete,” Grace said.

HC forensics will compete again in the final tournament of the semester Dec. 3-4 at the Outer Limit Swing cohosted by UNK and Doane University in Crete, Nebraska.

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