National Ambition

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Many speech and debate competitors wonder what it takes to get a chance to compete in a national tournament. It's no surprise that so many students are vying for the coveted spots to participate in the National Forensics League's National Speech and Debate Tournament; those who place are rewarded not only with trophies, but also with more than $130,000 in college scholarships.

But only a certain amount of people from each school can compete in the National Forensics League's tournament each year, as detailed on this site: Qualifying for the NFL National Tournament happens at the district level. The league comprises more than 100 districts, so once you find out which one you're in (if any), you should contact the District Chair for more information about whether you are eligible to compete in a qualifier for the NFL National Tournament.

Your coach will be the person who decides which students will be eligible to go to the national qualifier (which is a tournament that takes place in your district -- you compete against others in your district and the top students get to go to Nationals), so you should definitely talk to him or her if you are interested in submitting your candidacy as a team representative.

Though the NFL's tournament is the largest and most widely recognized national competition in speech and debate, there are other national tournaments each year.

The National Catholic Forensic League hosts its Grand National Tournament on Memorial Day weekend annually. The 2010 competition will be held in Omaha, Nebraska, the 2011 competition will be held in Washington, DC, and the 2012 competition will be held in Baltimore, Maryland.

There's also the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, which is mainly for home-schooled students. The organization hosts a national tournament each year, with this year's competition taking place in Virginia Beach.

In addition, there are many national tournaments for college-level competitors. There's the National Debate Tournament of the American Forensic Association and the National Collegiate Debate Championship. The American Parliamentary Debate Association will also participate in competition at Swarthmore College in April on a national level.

For details on any of these tournaments, simply visit the websites for the leagues. Keep in mind that nearly all of these leagues require that you enroll as a member and pay an enrollment and entry fee before you can take part in a tournament. Having the talents and potential to compete in a national tournament is great -- but you also need to find out what the regulations are before it's too late to ensure your eligibility.

In high school there are also several tournaments of champions for debate . The University of Kentucky hosts policy, LD, public forum, and Congress. A rigorous qualification process ensures that the competitors are the best in the country, even moreso than NFL Nationals.

The brand new NIETOC will be held this year in Fullerton, CA and is specifically aimed at individual events. There is also a specific qualification process for this one.

The National Debate Coaches' Association tournament for debate events will be held at Georgetown University this year.

Coach note:
If you plan on attending ANY of these national tournaments, it is advised you research early on the qualification procedures for these tournaments. Some have particular tournaments you have to compete at and rank at to qualify, so that could shape your path of competition for the season.

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