Kristofer Kracht is starting his thirteenth-year directing the Gustavus Adolphus College Forensics program and his eighth year directing the Gustavus Summer Speech Institute. Last year he tried to grow a beard, but it ruined his bald man glare ratio, so he decided to shave. During his tenure, Gustavus became 1 of 11 schools in the history of collegiate forensics to be ranked in the elite top 10 five consecutive years. He's getting pretty old now, but that is okay. Gustavus placed 6th at the 2014 American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament and 7th at the 2014 National Forensic Association National Championship while earning a National Championship in Presidents D-I. Woo! Kris has coached fourteen national finalists, 69 state champions, qualified ten students for the Interstate Oratorical Association National Contest, and coached five AFA-NIET All-Americans. He also made such good hot dogs at the last AFA-NIET that his team of 13 students consumed 40 hot dogs in a little under an hour. Additionally, he received the 2006 Bob Derryberry Award For Outstanding New Forensics Educator, the 2009 Pi Kappa Delta Brightest Star Award, and the 2010 Swenson-Bunn Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence, and the 2011 AFA District Four Larry Schnoor Distinguished Service Award. He's also the best coach in the world. Kris has two children, Eva and Noah, who are pretty neat.
Cadi Kadlecek starts her fourth year as the Associate Director of Forensics at Gustavus Adolphus College. She is originally from Ceresco, NE, where she competed at Raymond Central High School and was a member of a multiple state Championship team. In addition, she was an Octa-Finalist in Humorous Interpretation at the NFL National Tournament her senior year. As a college competitor, she competed in Public Address, Limited Prepration, and Interpretation winning not only the Nebraska state title in Dramatic interpretation, but also a National Championship in Prose Interpretation. In addition to success in forensics, Kadlecek demonstrated success in the classroom and service to the community by receiving the AFA-NIET All-American Award. Kadlecek now serves as a college coach and has coached students at Illinois State University, Bradley University, Concordia College, and Gustavus Adolphus College; managing to coach nationally competitive students in each of the 11 events at the AFA-NIET, and garnering her the Outstanding New Coach Award for the AFA-NIET in 2013. In her spare time, she bakes cupcakes and likes to play with her two cats, Ira and Sophia.
Tricia Irvine has been coaching Speech for the past seven years. In that time she has had the opportunity to work with a number of state finalists and several state champions.
Tricia earned a BA in International Relations from Drake University and JD from the University of Minnesota Law School. After practicing law for 12 years, she saw the error of her ways, went back to school, earned a BS in Social Studies Education at, then, Moorhead State University, and taught high school and middle school social studies for the next 20+ years. She was a candidate for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. She retired from full-time teaching last year.
Tricia and her husband, Peter, have two grown children, both of whom live on the West Coast, one in Eugene, OR and the other in Los Angeles. The best thing about retirement is that she gets to see them more than once a year! When she is not burdening her children with extended visits, Tricia hikes, bikes, reads, gardens, maintains her old farmhouse and travels to places other than Oregon and California.
Roxy Janke has been a speech coach for 28 years. She was recognized as CTAM's Outstanding Individual in Communication in 2004. She was Farimont Area School's Teacher of the year in 2007 and was named as a semi-finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. She has been an active member of the Minnesota Speech Coaches Association and the Communication and Theatre Association of Minnesota.
Andrea Carlile is entering her third year as Director of Forensics at South Dakota State University. She is the 2013recipient of Pi Kappa Delta’s Bob Derryberry Outstanding Contributions from a new Forensics Educator. In her brief tenure at SDSU she has coached the 2013 and 2014 South Dakota Intercollegiate Forensics Association Champions and qualified students to the AFA-NIET. Andrea competed for Gustavus form 2003-2007, where she was a three-time qualifier to the Interstate Oratory Contest, a semi-finalist in 2006 and one of the first Gustavus competitors to break into quarterfinals in Communication Analysis at the AFA-NIET in 2007. She was named to the 2007 AFA and Pi Kappa Delta All-American teams. Andrea has a Master’s in Communication Studies from South Dakota State University and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Gustavus Adolphus College. Prior to returning to South Dakota Andrea worked as a communication consultant in Washington, D.C. She is originally from Chatham, Illinois where she competed in four years of high school speech in Radio Speaking, Original Oratory, Oratorical Declamation and Special Occasion Speaking.
Jarod Ockander has been the Head Speech Coach at David City, Nebraska, for 9 years, producing 5 state championship teams, ninety-five medalists, and 21 Champions. He was the 2006 Dale E. Black Young Teacher of the Year award winner, the 2009 NFL Nebraska Coach of the year, the 2010 KLIN 10-11 Golden Apple Award recipient, won the 2013 Nebraskans for the Arts award, and was the President of the Nebraska Speech Communication, and Theater Association. In his spare time, Jarod enjoys golfing, helping his daughters show club lambs, writing plays, cheering for the Huskers, and spending time with his wife, Sara, and two daughters, Laurel and Lydia.
Coach Strong took over the Des Moines Roosevelt speech and debate program in 2004 and has grown it from a very small squad to over 50 students. His students have now won 16 individual state championships, qualified 44 times to the NFL national tournament and have won two NFL School of Excellence awards in debate (2008/2012). His extemp students have consistently placed high or won at national circuit extemp events including the MBA Round Robin, Extemp TOC and Catholic Nationals. His students are frequently invited to the top select tournaments and round robins in the country.
“Strong” was honored as the winner of the National Extemp Coaching Excellence Award in 2010 and again in 2012. He was the West Iowa Coach of the Year in 2011. He was named Iowa Coach of the Year in 2012. Both his debate and speech teams have been Iowa State team champions.
Additionally, academics matter in Strong's program with well over 20 winners of the NFL Academic All American Award in her coaching term at Roosevelt.
Jennifer Baese has coached high school speech for 20 years, and has been a head coach for Lakeville North High School for most of those. She has coached State finalists in Drama, Extemp Reading, Informative, Oratory, Poetry and Prose, including 4 State Champions in Informative. Her team also competes on the national level; she has coached multiple finalists in Expository Speaking and coached the 2010 National Champion in that category. She grew up doing speech in Pine Island, Minnesota, when her dad, Tom Bollman, forced her to go out for speech in 8th grade .... and she is eternally grateful that he did so. When she is not coaching speech, Ms. Baese teaches 9th grade English in Lakeville, loves reading any chance she can sneak away from her responsibilities , binge watching Scandal and West Wing, eating great food that other people have cooked, and spending as much time as she can with her fantastic sons, Matthias, 11, and Dmitry, 6, who keep her alternately entertained and exhausted on a daily basis.
Andrew Monagle comes from Aberdeen, New Jersey and is entering his fifth year as a coach. As a college competitor, Andrew competed for Seton Hall University and was fortunate enough to participate in numerous local, regional, and national elimination rounds including a quarterfinal in prose at the 2011 AFA-NIET. Andrew started coaching in 2010 for Manchester-Essex High School in Massachusetts primarily as a Public Forum coach. Though he also dabbles in interp, PF and LD, since he began coaching at Ridge High School in 2011, Andrew has been specializing in Limited Prep, Public Address, and Congressional Debate. At Ridge, Andrew’s students have seen amazing success making it to the final round of the Yale Invitational, Glenbrooks, GMU Patriot Games, UPENN Liberty Bell Classic, Harvard Invitational, The TOC, an NCFL championship in Congressional Debate in 2013, and a 7th place finish in International Extemp in 2014. Additionally, Andrew has served on the New Jersey Forensics League Executive Board for the last two years. Outside of speech, Andrew likes cooking (read: loves good food), jamming out to what one could describe as “all the music,” and helping out with the sound and lighting for local community theaters.
Jason Olson has been a speech coach for 11 years and is one of the head coaches at Adrian High School. Prior to his coming to Adrian High School, the team had never had a state finalist and now for the past several years, have been blessed with multiple state finishers. This year, he was fortunate and proud to have state finalists in Informative, Great Speeches, and Extemp. Reading. Jason grew up participating in speech at Dassel-Cokato High School and then went on to compete on the collegiate level at Southwest Minnesota State University, qualifying multiple events for the AFA National Tournament. He was selected by his fellow coaches to be the Class ‘A’ Discussion Chair for the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) over five seasons, has served as a judge at the State Tournament, and previously was on the Minnesota Speech Advisory Committee as one of two Class ‘A’ coaches. Additionally, he was selected by the MSHSL as the 2011-2012 Outstanding Speech, Debate, and Theatre Educator for the state. Aside from speech, Jason teaches Social Studies at Adrian High School for which he won Adrian’s Teacher of the Year Award in 2009. Now attending his third summer speech institute as a coach, Jason considers this to be the highlight of his summer because of the passion and energy that keeps speech in the blood.
Zach Prax joins us for his second summer at the Gustavus Adolphus Summer Speech Institute. A high school instructor for eight years, Zach received his B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and his M.A. in social studies education from the University of St. Thomas. In his eleven years of coaching, Zach has directed debate, original oratory, and extemporaneous speaking at Chanhassen for three years, and coached at Apple Valley High School for eight years prior. Zach’s extempers and orators have appeared in the final round of NFL Nationals, NCFL Grand Nationals, the Minnesota State Tournament, the Glenbrooks, and have also appeared in deep outrounds at a number of local and national invitational tournaments including Emory, Harvard, and the Extemp TOC. In his "free time", Zach has kept himself busy by serving at the Secretary of the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association, the Section 6 Debate Representative, the Director of the Winona Diocese of the National Catholic Forensic League, and the Chair of the Central Minnesota District of the National Forensic League. The Summer Speech Institute will be Zach's last week in Minnesota as he leaves to serve as the Director of Speech and Debate at the University School of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the 2014-2015 school year.
Sandra Wieser-Matthews has been the Head Speech Coach for the Yellow Jacket Speech team for 25 years in Perham, MN. Before teaching and coaching in Perham she directed theater and taught in Fort Myers, Florida. Sandra also has a degree in broadcasting and worked in radio and television in Nebraska. Sandra recently received her Doctoral Degree in Critical Pedagogy from the University of St. Thomas. She has coached many state speech finalists and champions over her career. As a high school educator, Sandra focuses on teaching students Public Speaking, mass media, drama, and Film Studies. This will be Sandra's fourth year of summer coaching, as she enjoyed two years at the Institute and one year at the Concordia camp. Sandra enjoys spending time with her two sons and husband, hiking, reading, horse-back riding, and traveling.
Jennifer Parker spent her last ten summers coaching interpretation events for regional and national forensics camps. Jennifer is the former Director of Individual Events at Illinois State University, where she coached the squad to its first and only team national championship in 2005. She coached six collegiate competitors to national championships in interpretation events, including the 2012 Program Oral Interpretation and the 2008 Prose champion. She coached the collegiate national runner-up in Poetry in 2013, and in 2011 she coached the collegiate national runner-up in 3 events: Poetry, Prose, and Dramatic Interpretation, making this the 6th national prose runner-up she coached. Currently, she is owner and director of the Omaha Dance Center and an instructor in communication at Creighton University. She also serves as assistant coach for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where she coaches interpretation events. When her best friend asks nicely, Jennifer occasionally volunteer coaches for Millard North High School. Jennifer has lots of experience inciting and organizing dance parties.
Sam Boerboom holds the position of Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Rhetoric at Montana State University Billings. Previously Sam taught for two years at Gustavus Adolphus College as Visiting Assistant Professor. During that time he also served as a volunteer speech coach for the Gustavus Adolphus Forenics team. Sam starting his forensics career his sophomore year at Marshall High School, competing in humorous interpretation, great speeches, and extemp speaking. He was a two-time state competitor in humorous interpretation. In his collegiate forensics career at the University of Nebraska, Sam competed in both interpretation and public address events, placing nationally at the AFA-NIET tournament in prose, duo, persuasion and communication analysis. In addition to his three years of coaching at GAC-SSI, he served as a staff member at summer speech camps at the University of Nebraska. In his forensics coaching Sam stresses how public address and interpretation skills rely upon and reinforce one another.
Jill Lofald has coached at Duluth Denfeld for 22 years. Jill has been coaching competitive speech for over 30 years! She teaches English 9, Public Speaking, Creative Writing, Interpersonal Communications and Drama.
Jill considers the Interp events her strongest area coaching state champions in Drama and Creative. She also has coached a state champion in Great Speeches and National qualifiers in Oratory and Extemp. Speaking.
The speech team—under Jill's coaching has had over 20 students advance to the NFL tournament and has advanced 6 into the top 60 and 2 to the top 30.
Karmin Schraw teaches Honor English 9 and AP Language and Composition at St. Cloud Tech High School. She has been the head coach at Tech for 18 years. During those years, Tech Speech has grown to a team of 70+ students and has been fortunate to advance 138 students to the state tournament with over 50 state finalists and 8 state champions. They are members of the National Forensic League and have advanced dozens of students to nationals, many advancing to the octa and quarterfinal rounds. They participate in the Harvard Speech/Debate tournament every February. In 2011 they had a duo team break into the final round, and this past year, they had 2 students in DI break into the final round. One placed 5th, and the other placed 2nd out of 398 other DIs from around the nation. The Tech Team has been the Central Lakes Conference Champions for 17 years in a row. When Karmin is not coaching speech, she enjoys reading, organizing her house, relaxing at the lake cottage, and thinking about oratory and informative topics. This is Karmin’s first year at camp, and she is anxious to meet everyone and learn from coaches and students.
Yatesh Singh has coached at Lakeville North High School for the past two years in Lincoln-Douglas debate and now extemporaneous speaking. Prior to North, he coached Policy debate and speech at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights. A few recent accomplishments of his students include the 2011 state title in debate, 3rd place finish in extemp speaking at the 2012 state speech tournament, and an extemper in the top 60 at the 2012 NFL National tournament.
Noelle Anderson starts her fourth and final year of competitive collegiate speech. She is originally from Simi Valley, CA, where she competed at Moorpark College for two years as a member of their ten-time national championship team. In addition, she was a two-time State Champion in Prose Interpretation at the California Community College Forensics Association (CCCFA) State Tournament. As a competitor, she has competed and placed in every Interpretation event- Prose, Poetry, Drama, POI, and Duo -on both the 2-year and 4-year circuits. Along with her success in forensics, Noelle has demonstrated commitment to childcare. She holds Associate Degrees in Communication Studies and Early Childhood Education. This has led her to student teaching in preschool classrooms and coaching gymnastics at local parks and recreation centers. In her spare time, Noelle enjoys scrapbooking, small cute animals, and helping others.
Kelsey Abele hails from Kansas City Missouri, and even as an "out of stater" she is returning to SSI for the sixth time, for the fourth time as a coach. She is an Art History Major (to confuse people) and an English Major (to fit in). In high school she competed in Storytelling (Missouri style), Duo, Prose, Poetry, and Dramatic Interpretation. Every year in high school, she qualified for state and ended her high school career with three state final placings including: 2nd place in Prose, 4th place in Poetry, and 2nd place in DI. Now in college, she competes in Prose, Impromptu, Program Oral Interpretation, Duo, Drama, Communication Analysis, and Poetry. This past season, Kelsey finaled five events at the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State tournament, including a state championship in POI for the second year in a row and a state title in Prose. She also finished second in Indy Sweeps Awards at MCFA tournament. At the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament she placed 5th in Prose, and 2nd in Communication Analysis, eating her a 17th individual sweeps placing. She also earned the prestigious All-American Award at AFA-NIET for her service, academic excellence, and competitive success. She has had national out rounds in every genre including eight quarterfinals, two semifinals, and two finals. When not traveling with the team, Kelsey enjoys singing in the Gustavus Choir, hosting a campus radio show for KGSM, and having library dance parties. Other interests include reading, jamming out to music of all sorts, knitting, cooking elaborate meals with Karin, Brittany and Vanessa, writing letters, and lapsing into accents in regular conversation. She will be attending Kansas State University to study Communication and work with their forensics team in the fall.
My name is Megan and I hail from Coon Rapids, MN. I went to Blaine high school and was a captain for both speech and debate. This year I will be a freshman on the Gustavus Forensics team. Up until my senior year, I primarily focused on public address events. My main event was informative and I was able to be the captain of that category. During my senior year I dabbled in prose and did discussion as well. I also have experience in limited prep speaking events (thanks to debate). In debate, I did public form but switched to congressional debate, which led me to compete at the Harvard debate tournament. I am also an alumni of GAC-SSI 2013. I won the spirit award in my pride. When I’m not writing speeches and practicing, I like to ride my bicycle and listen to rock music.
Kaitlin Burlingame comes from Paynesville, Minnesota. She is one fourth of the beautiful senior class on the Gustavus Forensics team. In high school, she competed for six years in Humorous, placing second at the 2009 MSHSL State Tournament. So far in college forensics, she has participated in After Dinner Speaking, Prose, Drama, Persuasion, Program Oral Interpretation, Poetry, and Duo. During the 2012 competitive year, she took third at the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State Tournament in POI. She was a quarterfinalist in persuasion at the National Forensic Association National Championship, where she also placed third in Forensics Criticism. She and Emmett took her prose to the semifinal round at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament. She loves anything leopard print, including 3 of her suits, and luckily, she shares her fashion expertise as team stylist. Kaitlin is a Communication Studies major and a Theatre minor. When she’s not stretching for her Cirque Du Soleil audition or practicing creative modern operatic arrangements with soul sister Justin Feit, Kaitlin enjoys being hilarious, general debauchery, and being a glamorous hippie.
Vanessa graduated this spring from Gustavus Adolphus College, where she competed as a member of the GAC forensics team. Originally haling from Mound, Minnesota and competing on the high school circuit for four years, she performed a diverse group of categories including Humorous, Original Oratory, and Prose. In her collegiate career, she competed in Dramatic Interpretation, Poetry, Program Oral Interpretation, and Prose while qualifying her POI and Poetry to the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament. This past year, she also participated in the experimental event at the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State Tournament- taking third in Minnesota Informative. This fall, Vanessa will be attending South Dakota State University in Brookings for her Master's degree in Communication Studies, while teaching and coaching the SDSU forensics team. In her spare time, she loves to learn how to groom dogs, go to poetry slams, and canoe on Lake Minnetonka.
Adrienne Gruenes is a junior member on the Gustavus Forensics Team from Watkins, MN. This is her fifth time attending GAC-SSI, the second time as a coach. In high school, she competed for seven years in the categories of Drama, Original Oratory, and Great Speeches. She competed at the 2012 MSHSL Tournament her senior year in Great Speeches. In college, she competes in Informative, After Dinner Speaking, and Extemporaneous Speaking. During the season she placed she placed sixth in extemporaneous speaking at the district tournament. Adrienne is majoring in Communication Studies and double minoring in Political Science and Sociology/ Anthropology. When not working on speech, she enjoys hanging out in the team room with her teammates, watching movies, and listening to music, and reading the news.
Kari Grundmeier is a sophomore member of the Gustavus Adolphus Forensics team from Forest Lake Minnesota. She plans on majoring in Psychological Studies and minoring in Theater and Dance with a focus on costuming. In high school she competed in Creative Expression, Extemporaneous Reading, and Drama. This year she competed in the events of Drama and After Dinner Speaking. This will be her first year coaching at camp. In her spare time she enjoys reading, drawing, and playing video games.
Sonja Johnson just graduated from Gustavus where she competed for 4 years after coming from New Brighton, Minnesota. She competed for Irondale High School for four years in storytelling and extemporaneous reading. Since entering into the college arena, she has competed in Prose, Program Oral Interpretation (POI), Impromptu, After Dinner Speaking and Extemporaneous Speaking, qualifying impromptu (2011, 2013,2014), POI (2012,2014), After Dinner Speaking (2014) and extemporaneous speaking (2013, 2014) to the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament. As an active Doctor Who fan, she enjoys welcoming other people into the fold and sharing her wealth of life stories during commercial breaks. When she isn't busy working on speech, she enjoys singing, talking, watching movies, talking, and hanging out with friends.
Brittany Knutson is a sophomore member of the Gustavus Adolphus Forensics team from Watertown, SD. In high school, she competed in Original Oratory and qualified for the NFL National Tournament in 2010 and 2011. During her freshman year, Brittany competed in Persuasion, Informative, After Dinner Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, and Impromptu Speaking. She placed fourth at the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State Tournament in After Dinner Speaking and qualified Informative, Persuasion, and After Dinner Speaking to the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament. At Gustavus, Brittany is a Communication Studies and Political Science double-major. When she isn't busy with speech or school work, Brittany enjoys reading nerdy books, hanging out in the speech room until all hours of the night, and sitting on Gustavus' many hills with her closest friends.
Emily Meyer is a junior member of the Gustavus forensics team from Andover, Minnesota. She competed for four years in Extemporaneous Reading and two years in Original Oratory at St. Francis High School. She qualified for the state tournament in E.R. her senior year. She also participated in Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas debate for three years and Congressional Debate for four years. During her first year on the collegiate circuit, she qualified two events to the AFA-NIET: Prose and Informative. She also placed second in the district in Informative. Last year she qualified four events to the AFA-NIET: Persuasive Speaking, Informative Speaking, Program Oral Interpretation, and Prose Interpretation. She also was a national quarterfinalist in Persuasive Speaking. Emily is a Biology major with a concentration in botany and a Studio Art minor; she enjoys reading, painting and spending time with her friends. This is Emily’s second year coaching at SSI. SSI was Emily’s favorite part of the summer last year, and she can’t wait to do it again!
Chris Moua graduated from Gustavus in 2013 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in Philosophy. This will mark his fifth year as a coach at GAC-SSI. During his four years on the GAC Forensics Team, Chris competed in public address, limited prep, and poetry. His time in Forensics has earned him a national triple-quarterfinalist placing in Persuasion, double-quarterfinalist placing in Informative, and a quarterfinalist placing in Communication Analysis. While he likes all genres of competitive speech, he really enjoys the linguistic artistry of public address. Chris has an arguably unrivaled love for Lana Del Rey, an ever growing sword collection, and a fascination with Bruce Lee’s philosophy. He indulges himself in zombie movies, writing poetry, and imagining what the distant future of humanity will look like thousands of years from now.
Karin Nordin comes from Lino Lakes, MN. This is her third year coaching at camp, but she also attended camp back in 2010. In high school, Karin competed in Creative Expression for three years, finaling at sections all of those years and breaking to state finals during her senior year. At Gustavus she competes in Poetry, Drama, Duo, Program Oral Interpretation, Persuasion, Impromptu, and Prose. During her junior year, Karin qualified all of her six events to the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament, including three events to quarter finals and placing 6th in Poetry, and 4th in Persuasion. At the National Forensics Association National tournament, she broke five of her six events, and took Impromptu to semifinals, and Persuasion to 2nd place. This earned her a 19th place finish in Indy Sweeps at AFA, and a 10th place finish in Indy Sweeps at NFA. At the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State tournament she finaled 5 events, and won Impromptu because she had a sparkle in her eye. This allowed her to take fifth in Indy Sweeps. Karin is a Psychology major and ponders picking up a Scan-Studies Minor in the future. When she isn't practicing, she enjoys sleep-talking, trusting Kelsey to make elaborate meals, flailing her arms in the team room, horseback riding, and watching every slam poem on youtube.
Matthew Pursi is entering his fourth year as head coach for the BLHS/BOLD High School Speech Team. Before that, he worked as an assistant speech coach for the Duluth Speech Team for nine years. Matthew has coached students to both the state and national levels, and is an active member of both the NFL and the MSCA. When not coaching speech, you can find him teaching American Literature, British Literature, Honors English, Cinema Studies, and College Speech at BLHS High School; as well as directing high school productions year round. Before teaching, Matthew graduated with a BFA from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and worked professionally as a children’s stage manager for a few years before returning to school at the College of St. Scholastica where he received his masters in education.
Kari Roll will be a sophomore member of the Forensics team coming from Crystal Minnesota. She competed in Storytelling, Prose, and Drama in high school, and attended camp in 2011. During her freshman year she competed in Prose and Drama, and Minnesota Informative at the State tournament placing fourth. Kari is a Chemistry Education major, and in her free time enjoys reading, listening to music and cooking or baking.
Kenzie Shofner hails from Orono, Minnesota and is a sophomore on the Gustavus Adolphus Forensics Team. This is Kenzie’s third year attending GAC-SSI. Kenzie competed all four years in high school in a variety of events, including Prose, Drama, Extemporaneous Reading and Poetry. She placed third at the 2014 National Individual Events Tournament of Champions in Poetry. During her first year on the team, she qualified Communication Analysis, Prose Interpretation and Duo Interpretation to the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament. Kenzie placed 5th place in Duo Interpretation at the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State Tournament. Kenzie is currently a Communication Studies Major and is thinking about double majoring in Business Management. If you can’t find Kenzie in the team room working on speech or homework, she is usually hanging out with friends, shamelessly watching YouTube beauty tutorials videos or going on an impromptu adventure!
Shelby Wilds is a History and Communication Studies double major from Staples, MN. In high school, she competed in Great Speeches and competed at State her last three years in high school, placing in State finals her sophomore year. On the Gustavus Forensics Team, she competed in Impromptu Speaking, Informative Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, After Dinner Speaking, and Communication Analysis and qualified each of them to the 2014 American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament, where she broke to quarterfinals in Persuasive Speaking and After Dinner Speaking, broke to semifinals in Communication Analysis, and placed second in Informative Speaking. She also placed as ninth overall speaker at the tournament. At the 2014 Minnesota State tournament, she placed first in Extemporaneous Speaking, second in After Dinner Speaking, fourth in Informative Speaking, sixth in Communication Analysis, and placed as fourth overall speaker. She will be teaching in Japan after camp!
My name is Madison Klein, I’m from Huron, South Dakota and this fall I will be majoring in Music/Pre-Medicine. I’m very excited to be attending Gustavus Adolphus College this fall, but I’m even more excited to be a part of their speech team! My interest in speech started in elementary school when my mother would take me to the showcase nights the high school varsity team would have. I instantly decided it was something I wanted to do when I was a “big kid”. I joined our middle school team in the seventh grade and have been competing ever since then. My primary and favorite event has always been duo, but I’ve also competed in humor, oratory, drama, poetry, prose, and reader’s theater. Over my four years in high school forensics I have, been awarded six superior medals at the South Dakota State Oral Interpretation Festival, been a part of my conference’s championship duo team for the past three seasons, qualified for the NFL National Tournament in duo twice, been awarded the Harold Jordan Award from the state of South Dakota for outstanding contributions to the activity, attended GAC-SSI for two summers and made a lot of great friends. I’m a firm believer that competing in speech does not only improve your public speaking and people skills, but also your outlook on the world and appreciation for life. I am very grateful to this activity for making me the person I am today and I am SO EXCITED to be helping out at camp this year! GO GUSTIES!
Rodrigo was born in Tijuana Mexico in 1996. He moved to Minnesota in 1998 for his parents to pursue a PHD in the University of Minnesota. For his elementary education he attended a Montessori Magnet school named Crossroads. He attended a Montessori Charter High School named Great River School where he pursed the IB diploma. His school did not have a speech program. Instead he spent the majority of his time in Lego League and Robotics, eventually becoming the Build captain of his team. When he found the time, he enjoyed doing extracurricular activities related to public speaking such as debate, theater and poetry out loud. In addition, he participated in a summer camp at William Mitchel Law School doing Future in Learning Law. He learned about forensics through the SSI program. When he participated in 2012, he had never written a speech before. Through the support of mentors and hard dedication he was able to achieve second place in Public Address through Original Oratory. His ability to work through the lack of experience and confidence was reflected by the Growth Award. This won him an $8000 scholarship to attend Gustavus Adolphus and a love for forensics. Because of that scholarship he is entering as a Gustavus freshman and a new member of the forensics team.
Hi my name is Sarah! I would like to start off by saying that I am SUPER excited to work at this camp and meet all of you lovely people! I joined the Fridley High School speech team when I was in 7th grade, and I was the only middle-school student on the team. It was terrifying, but I kept with it because there was this sort of happiness and excitement I felt being involved in speech that made me keep coming back. In 7th and 8th grade I was in Poetry and let’s just say I didn’t win very often (or at all). When I was a freshman I made it to finals at our conference meet and I was standing up on the stage for awards and I had already assumed I’d get last place, so when my name wasn’t called immediately I thought that I was standing on the stage for the wrong category and I was SO embarrassed! It wasn’t until they announced my name for second place that I felt both relieved and astonished.
Throughout my six years of speech I have been in the categories of Serious Poetry, Humorous, Extemporaneous Reading (for a very short time), and Dramatic Duo. Most of my time has been spent in Poetry and Humorous and I would consider them to be two of my favorite categories! They are also the categories in which I have had the most success… coincidence? I am very grateful to have received several first and second place awards in these categories as well as in Duo. I have been honored to be on the Minnesota speech coaches’ “dream team” twice, to have received the Captains Award as well as several gold medals in lettering. I am a strong believer that success cannot be attained without hard work and disappointment. There were so many Saturdays where I was coming home empty-handed, but this only pushed me to further better myself. I think that the Junior Summer Speech Institute will be a fantastic way for young “speechers” to better themselves!
Clay Sletta was born in 1996. Then he was in ninth grade when he gave his first speech. In tenth grade he won eighth place in State AA prose. I explored characters and built fluent stories. I do prose. That’s what I’m still doing today. The End.
Ryan Eichenauer is a freshman member of the Gustavus Forensics team from Blaine, Minnesota. Ryan competed in speech for four years at Centennial High School where he specialized in Drama, Creative Expression, and Duo Interpretation. Some of Ryan’s high school accomplishments include: being a captain of his team his senior year, finaling at some of the nation’s largest tournaments (like his 4th place finish at Rosebowl or his 1st place finish at the Eagan Invitational), qualifying for state consecutively for three years and finishing 8th his senior year, and finally, breaking his school record for there most NFL points. He is also an alumni of GAC-SSI where he placed 3rd and 1st in honor finals. Ryan will start his college career competing in After Dinner Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation. When he isn’t working on speech or achieving his double-major in Psychology and Sociology, Ryan enjoys writing, listening to music, traveling, and spending time with friends!
HI! I’m Wilson Fields, I am Greenville, South Carolina born and raised. I am sweet tea sippin’ fried food eatin’ southern boy. I got into Forensics when I was a freshman in High School. On the local level I was a multiple state finalist in both Humorous Interp and Storytelling and my senior year I was a state champion in Dramatic Interp. On a national level I was in multiple out-rounds at many different national level tournaments. In high school I competed in every single NFL event except Duo and debate. In college I am primarily an interper and have had success, especially in my sophomore year which consisted of multiple national level tournament out-rounds in both Dramatic Interp and Duo Interp, placing four of my five events at our state tournament and being a national quarterfinalist in Dramatic Interp at the National Forensics Association National Tournament.
Kasey Wacker is new to the GAC SSI team, and is looking forward to sharing her years of high school coaching experience with the campers. Kasey started her speech career over 15 years ago when she competed at the state level in Humorous Interpretation. Deciding to coach Speech for Perham High school in Perham, MN was a natural decision as she studied at MSUM to become an English teacher. In the last four years coaching and starting her career as a high school teacher, Kasey has been apart of a coaching team that helped many students compete at the state level, including three state champions. This year, eleven competitors reached state, and three competed in finals. When Kasey isn’t coaching, teaching, and studying, she loves spending time with her husband and son, antique shopping, reading, biking, gardening, and watching comedies.
My name is Claire Sagstuen and I am one of the Co-Founders of the B.E.S.T. Foundation; the only speech and debate tournament organization in Bulgaria. I was the head speech and debate coach at "Ekzarh Yosif I" Foreign Language School in Bulgaria, but after three years of living abroad, I have officially moved back to Minnesota. A fun fact about me is that I graduated from Gustavus in 2011 and have worked at GAC-SSI since 2008! I have also traveled to 33 countries...it is truly an obsession. I am excited to be back and continue my passion for coaching!
Kellen Andersen is a Sophomore Biology major, Pre-Medicine track, Neuroscience minor and member of the Gustavus Adolphus College Forensics Team. He competed in Humorous Interp. all four years in the Minnesota State High School League, placing 7th in the State as a Sophomore and winning the 2012 Gustavus Adolphus College Summer Speech Institute Oral Interpretation Tournament. Last year, Kellen competed in Drama, Prose, Duo, Impromptu Speaking, and After Dinner Speaking on the Gustavus team, qualifying both Drama and Duo to the American Forensics Association national tournament at Arizona State University. There, he placed in the top 100 Dramas in the country. This is Kellen's second year being a coach at the Junior Summer Speech Institute, and is his fourth year coming to the Summer Speech Institute. He is SUPER excited to meet all of the phenomenal campers and to share his love of forensics with them! When Kellen isn't perfecting speeches, he enjoys reading, watching Netflix, camping with his family, being in a lab, doing science, and talking about Gustavus! One fun fact about Kellen is that he loves cacti and has five different types at his house!
Alekhya Tallapaka is an incoming freshman and member of the Gustavus Forensics team. Alekhya has competed in both speech and debate for four years at Rosemount High School, and was captain of the team since her junior year. Alekhya has participated in Extemp speaking, Poetry, Prose, Impromptu, Drama, Duo, and Humor throughout her high school speech career. Alekhya was the highest NFL total point earner for both Speech and Debate at Rosemount, and was in the running for Student of the Year in her district. She has also met the NFL points threshold for Academic All-American status and has earned a quadruple ruby for outstanding distinction. Additionally, Alekhya has won many tournaments as an Extemp Speaker and as a Serious Interper, including the John Marshall tournament, and the East Ridge invitational. Alekhya has consistently ranked among the top extempers in her section, placing at the Eagan invitational and semifinaling at National qualifiers throughout her high school career. Alekhya was named All-Conference in Prose Interpretation, and has earned the Legacy Award from Rosemount High School. At Gustavus, Alekhya is planning to double major in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a minor in spanish. In her free time, Alekhya enjoys reading, cooking, becoming angry with various injustices around the world, and shopping for the latest heels (tournament appropriate, of course).