Forensics team takes on their season with confidence

The forensics team helps students to find their place on campus

Kyra Price

More stories from Kyra Price

Across the Pond
May 9, 2024

Photo by Kyra Price

Forensics gives students an opportunity to work on speaking and create connections.

Chris Outzen, director of forensics at UW-Eau Claire, first got involved with forensics during his freshman year of high school.

He said he was a freshman struggling to find his place, and one of his best friends dragged him to large group auditions for the team. He was shy at the time and went into auditions with no expectations.

Outzen said he fell in love with the general idea of competition and speaking when he realized he was making people laugh. Forensics was giving him opportunities that he said wanted to give to others as well.

For six years Outzen was the director of forensics at a different university, until the fall of 2020 when he started at UW-Eau Claire. He said this job was the kind he never thought he would get, but it came with good planning, good timing and luck.

The UW-Eau Claire forensics team is one of the most well-respected and long-running teams in the nation. He said it was a presence he loved and respected from the outside.

Outzen said the season is going well so far, with the team competing at a high level and consistently placing at the tournaments they are attending.

“The competition is important, of course,” said Outzen, “but to me, a lot of our success stories that come out of forensics is all about looking at the growth and whatever that means for students.”

Meghan Roeser, a fourth-year comprehensive social work student, said she did not realize the school had a forensics team until meeting a current teammate freshman year in class. When COVID-19 hit, she decided she wanted to pursue being on the team.

Roeser started with just interpretation, but last year started doing public address as well as acting.

She said her goal this year is to push herself to do more than she did last year, get out into the season earlier and make the most of her senior season.

Second-year accounting and economics student Luke Plagens said he competed for eight years before coming to UW-Eau Claire and came to the school with the intention of joining the forensics team.

Plagens said that being on the team helped them learn how to make friends.

“Starting off college and not knowing who you’re (going to) be with is really hard, except I’ve learned how to communicate with people,” said Plagens.

He said he tried a lot of different categories starting with acting, then moving toward speech, but now he does a mix of everything. Their goal this year is to compete in five different events, the maximum being six.

Plagens said that he used to be worried that everyone hated him, but now he loves being around his team because it is like a family, which he never would have experienced elsewhere.

“There’s a huge team emphasis that I’ve never really got before coming to college. We work as a unit and I don’t think any coach I’ve had in the high school focused on that. So right now we’re just trying to be the best pack that we can be,” said Plagens.

Outzen said the team is open to any major and year, and that as long as someone wants to pursue public speaking and competition, there is a place for them.

Price can be reached at [email protected].