Spectacular Speakers

Freshmen Speech Team members L to R: Zac Tinlin, Kylie Caligiuri,Abby Hanneman, Annie Schuver, Lauren Jones, Abby Supermaut, Jay Simmons

December 5, 2013

By Savannah Jones ‘14

The Bradley University speech team will welcome more than 300 high school students from nine states at the 2013 George Armstrong Heart of Illinois Individual Events Tournament December 6-7. In addition, students will compete for scholarships as part of the Janssen Oratorical Contest.

Students will travel from Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, California, Missouri, Nebraska, Indiana and South Dakota to Peoria for a weekend competing on campus. Unlike other high school speech tournaments, the top three orators will receive Bradley scholarships through Peoria lawyer and former speech team member Jay Janssen ’59. The Janssen champion receives a $15,000 scholarship; second place receives a $13,000 and third place $12,000. 

“Jay Janssen has been one of the biggest fans of the Bradley University Speech Team since his time at Bradley University as a debater,” Speech Team Director of Forensics Ken Young said. “Without his support and support of all our alums, the speech team legacy wouldn’t be possible.”

Young and his team share their passion for speech with a younger generation and possible future team members through the Armstrong. He said he is excited for the energy and raw talent of the young competitors. The Armstrong allows Young to recruit “some of the brightest and most talented students across the country. 

“It’s exciting to think so many of them will be the future of Bradley University Speech as the past has shown,” Young said 

Freshmen Annie Schuver, Kylie Caligiuri and Abby Hanneman have the unique experience as former Armstrong and Janssen competitors now hosting as Bradley speech team members. All three of them are also former campers of the Summer Forensics Institute (SFI) hosted by the Speech Team. All seven 2012 Janssen finalists are now Bradley speech team members. 

“I went to the Armstrong three years in high school and it was always my favorite tournament,” 2012 Janssen champion Schuver said. “I’m excited to be on the other side, see the high school students and make the experience fun. It’s a really great tournament to be part of.”

Caligiuri placed second in the Janssen and one of her fondest memories of the Armstrong was walking off stage after receiving her trophy and hugging future teammate Abby Hanneman. 

“It was cool going to camp for three years with Abby and even cooler knowing we had four more years together,” Caligiuri said. “The Armstrong was more welcoming and comforting than any other high school tournament even though there were expectations of the tournament with scholarship money. 

Spending a weekend on campus and competing outside of the SFI experience attracted Hanneman to Bradley’s event. She saw competitors from all across the country and different trends on the high school speech circuit. She said the Bradley speech team’s class, love for the activity, and dedication to competitors sets the Armstrong competition apart from other high school tournaments. 

“Just as everything the team does, we approach the Armstrong with class and facilitating top-notch competition with education and fun always at the forefront,” Young said.