North Central College - Naperville, IL

Forensics team excels at state championships

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Team members and faculty coaches, from left: David DePino ’13, John Stanley, Nic
Team members and faculty coaches, from left: David DePino ’13, John Stanley, Nicole Autry ’11, Richard Paine, Greg Voegtle ’11, Patrick Burfield ’11, Heather Zupancic ’11, William Miller ’12, Steve Mackey ’13. Mark White ’13 is not pictured.

March 10, 2011—North Central College’s forensics team excelled in this year’s State Championship Tournament, hosted by the Illinois Intercollegiate Forensics Association (IIFA) March 4-5 at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb. North Central won three first-place titles and garnered a top prize, IIFA’s George Armstrong Cumulative Team Sweepstakes award.

Nearly 200 students, representing 19 Illinois colleges and universities, attended the tournament. Competition was held in both debate and 12 individual events in order to determine this year’s State Champions.

In Parliamentary Debate, senior Nicole Autry, a speech communication major from Joplin, Mo., and senior Patrick Burfield, a double history and English literature major from Naperville, were declared State Champions. They defeated a team from NIU in the semi-finals and won a unanimous 3-0 decision over Northwestern University in the final. 

A second North Central team, comprised of senior Greg Voegtle, global studies major from Schaumburg, and sophomore David Depino, a social science/history major from Wheaton, also reached the semi-finals. 

In addition, Depino earned two State Championship titles. He was recognized as the top individual speaker in Parliamentary Debate and the first-place winner in Extemporaneous Speaking (a category that gives students only 30 minutes to prepare speeches on current economic, domestic and international news events).

The George Armstrong Cumulative Sweepstakes Trophy is earned by schools as the product of many years of successful participation in the IIFA organization. Each year, based on their success at the annual tournament, schools earn points that are added to a running total, which is reset to zero after the award is earned. 

North Central garnered this year’s award for the second time in its school history; it achieved this honor in 1999. Other than frequent award winners Bradley University and Illinois State University, North Central is the only other school to date in the state of Illinois to repeat as Armstrong award winners.

In the near future, the debate team will travel to the Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament in Portland, Ore., while the individual events team will be competing at the American Forensic Association (AFA) District 5 tournament, which will be hosted at North Central College on Saturday, March 12; the AFA National Tournament at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in early April; and the National Forensic Association (NFA) National Tournament at Illinois State University in mid-April.

The team is coached by Richard Paine, professor of speech communication/theatre, director of forensics and director of debate; and John Stanley, assistant professor of speech communication, assistant director of forensics and director of individual events.

Founded in 1861 and celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2011, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live”—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes. Visit to learn more.