by Ward Mullens, Published May 13, 2011
YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University's Forensics team has placed in the top 10 in the nation every year for the past 40 years.
"No other team can say that or even comes close to that," said Ray Quiel, director of forensics at EMU.
However, one of the few categories in which Eastern Michigan has never had a national champion is impromptu speaking.
Omar Orme, a recent graduate of EMU, won the American Forensics Association National Championship for impromptu speaking at the competition, which took place at the University of Nebraska in April.
"There have been about 70 national champions from EMU, but we have never won this event at AFA," said Quiel. The last time EMU had a national champion was in 2007, according to Quiel.
"With our (forensics) tradition at EMU, it blows my mind that we had never won that event," said Orme, 22, of Holt, Michigan. "This would not have been possible without the entire team. The team is what helped me become champion because we challenge each other and push each other."
The three-day competition featured 80-100 schools from across the nation and 800-1,000 students.
"One of the most difficult things is that you give 30-40 speeches in three days," Orme said. "It's a sprint!"
Orme competed in several different categories, but reached the finals in impromptu speaking.
"It's absolutely my favorite event. I really enjoy being able to gauge the audience and react to what they are doing," said Orme, who won three state forensic championships in high school.
The preliminaries pair down competitors until there are six remaining in the finals. In impromptu speaking, each competitor is given a quote and sevens minutes to divide between preparation and performance.
Orme and his competitors were given the quote, 'Leadership is action, not position,' by Donald McGannon, television pioneer and former president of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company.
"I decided to disagree with the quote," said Orme. "I argued that no matter how many actions you take, it's hard to get people to follow you if you are not in the right position."
Orme had a feeling that he had done better than in the past.
"I had been in the finals before, but never came away thinking that was the best I could do. I always thought there was something I could have done better," Orme said. "This time, I said, 'I can't do any better than that!"
There is more forensics in Orme's future. After he gets married this summer, he is moving to Boston to pursue his Ph.D. in economics at Suffolk University. He also will be leading the forensic team there.