An Overview of CF’s Forensics Team

How forensics is overcoming obstacles, continuing to be successful

The forensics team at CF has had an incredibly impressive year despite the struggles of the pandemic. The last year has seen the forensics team participating in numerous competitions and tournaments. 

The team has continued to achieve great success in many of their meetings. CF’s forensics team participated in the recent Phi Rho Pi competition from Tuesday, Apr. 6 through Saturday, Apr. 10. It was the first time in three years that CF has competed in the national competition. During the event, the team earned five awards in total.

Among their accomplishments, Eileen Hernandez, the team’s president, won a bronze award in Poetry and a gold award in Communication Analysis & Persuasive Speaking. Hernandez also won the Warren-Dahlin Fellowship Award and earned fourth place in the Top Speaker category. The team took the silver award in the Hindman Division.

The team is coached by Dr. Matthew Maddex, the director of Forensics, who also received the Collie-Taylor Fellowship Award at Phi Rho Pi.

According to Dr. Maddex, in total the forensics team has participated in 19 online competitions in total. Throughout these competitions, CF has won a total of 19 team awards and 72 individual event awards.

According to Hernandez, the team had to switch to a completely online format in the summer of 2020. The team used Zoom for many meetings, and some other formats for competitions they participated in. 

The difficulties for the team came in the switch from a collective atmosphere to being isolated from each other. 

One member, Sayjal Jaimungal, noted the difficulty that procrastination and a lack of motivation caused for her and the team. The team has also dealt with members testing positive for COVID-19, keeping up with jobs and classes, and balancing working with each other through Zoom. 

Dr. Maddex has been very present for his students though all of the changes. He works hard to meet individually with the team members and help them with whatever they need, according to Hernandez, Jaimungal and the others.

“This year I’ve really had to recruit new members to the team, but I’ve had to pinpoint each person’s needs,” said Dr. Maddex. “And I really hope I’ve helped them this year.”

Recruiting new members has also been a difficulty for the team since making the switch to online. Originally, Dr. Maddex was recruiting new members from his public speaking class, with Hernandez being the first student he recruited. Since then he has relied on the Club Rush event. 

“One of the barriers that we’ve had because of the pandemic is we haven’t been able to outreach as much as we normally would have and actually talk to people,” said Hernandez. “It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re on Zoom and people turn off their camera.”

The forensics team allows its members to become more articulate in expressing themselves. 

Jaimungal said that being on the team allowed her to become more confident with her voice and speaking ability.

“I’m always self-conscious about how I talk,” said Jaimungal. “[Dr. Maddex] and this group was the one that pushed me to really be like ‘It’s you and it’s your voice. There’s nothing wrong with having an accent.’”

Dr. Maddex said that, among many other things, watching his students gain confidence throughout their practices and competitions is one of the most rewarding things of coaching the team.

Dr. Maddex said, “to have them tell me they feel like they just gave their best performance yet. To see how after a coaching session a student takes what you talk about and makes their performance better.”

“We want to help students to discover who they are and could be through the different forensics events and competitions” said Dr. Maddex. “We want to help students to feel confident in themselves and to see their personal growth”.

Zachary Williams also commented on what his experience as part of the forensics team has meant to him.

“It really opened my view of what problems are in the world,” said Williams. “Before, you just have a general idea that these problems exist. But when you go out into these forensics tournaments and you hear these speeches, you truly understand how serious these problems can be and how important they are”.

There is noticeable chemistry and camaraderie between the team members, such that they truly feel like a family. 

They have their own inside jokes and vernacular they use. Tournaments are referred to as “rendezvous”. They call each other “kings” and “queens”. They even have their own humorous group complement: “We be shrimpin’!” 

“Honestly, this team has held itself together because they’ve cared for each other,” said Dr. Maddex. “They’ve honestly wanted to see themselves do better for each other… I can’t teach that. I can’t breed that. It’s something I can push for, but it’s something they have to do themselves and they have.”

Joining the club is incredibly easy. According to Williams and Hernandez, anybody interested in joining can simply reach out to Dr. Maddex and let him know. For more information, email Dr. Maddex at [email protected] or visit the team’s Instagram page, @cf_forensics. 

“Bet on yourself,” says Dr. Maddex. “Take a chance to develop yourself with other students who are looking to improve themselves and make a difference through their voice.”

The past victories for the forensics team can be read about at and at