National Championships

Goals and Philosophy

Joining the Team

​el camino college foresics team

Who Can Go to Tournaments?

End-of-Year Tournaments

The State Championship

Time Commitment and Logistics

What is Forensics?

Information on Being Part of the

El Camino ForensicsTeam 

Forensics is the oldest academic subject still taught in our colleges and universities today. Forensics means "speaking for judgment;” and thus, competitive speaking in schools as well as legal speaking in debate fall under the heading of forensics.

Forensics has had, and continues to have, a tremendous influence in the United States. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, and Reagan were all involved in forensics.  In a recent survey of Who's Who, forensics was chosen as the single most valuable class the people surveyed had taken in school.  Needless to say, we think that regardless of what profession you plan to pursue after ECC,   the benefits of being on the forensics team reach far beyond just improving your speaking skills and winning trophies—though, granted, these are rewarding by-products.

The team holds tryouts at the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the fall semester, though occasionally students are recruited from coaches' classes or local high schools and bypass the tryout procedure.  If you have missed tryouts, you may still be able to join the team.  Just come to Music 132 on Mondays or Wednesdays from 1:00-1:30pm and ask for Francesca and she will discuss the possibilities with you.

The Forensics Team meets twice a week: Mondays for individual speaking events from 2:00-4::00pm and Wednesdays for debate from 1:30-4:30pm.  Students enroll in COMS 292 and 293 for two units each.  The amount of time you dedicated to forensics outside of practice is up to you and depends on how good you want to be and how far you want to go.  We find that love of the activity and competitive spirit takes care of this part!

The forensics season runs from September through April.  El Camino attends 5-6 weekend tournaments per semester, culminating in two national tournaments in various states at the end of the season.  El Camino pays all entry fees.  For out-of-town tournaments, the program also pays hotel and travel expenses, and provides an allowance for meals. 

Our main goal is to help you develop into the best public speaker you can be. To achieve this goal, you must be willing to devote time, effort, and a positive attitude towards the activity and the people involved in it.  While your coaches will become your primary resources in direction and guidance, it is up to you to be prepared.  Communicate what your specific goals are in forensics and we will do all we can to help you.
A word on winning . . . keep it in perspective!  Dedication and hard work is almost always rewarded in forensics; it is usually just a question of time.  Forensics tournaments are judged subjectively and we all accept that when we begin competing.  The ironic thing about taking trophies is that it seems to happen just when we stop speaking or debating solely for them.

Another thing to keep in mind is that different people will progress and grow differently in this activity.  Financial and competitive considerations will force us to limit the number of people who can travel to various tournaments.  Like coaches of any other competitive activity, we do have to make decisions about your readiness to compete.  Your skill level, willingness and ability to practice, and ability to function well in a competitive team-oriented activity all factor into our decisions regarding competitive readiness.

Budget permitting, everyone who in the opinion of the coaches is prepared, can and should attend local tournaments.  For championship tournaments and overnight tournaments we need to limit the number of students who can participate.  In this case, the decision will be based on competitive excellence, work ethic, and suitability for travel.  Our overall rule for every tournament is that speeches must be written and heard two weeks prior to the tournament date; however, you must be present at the Monday team meeting in order to be entered in a tournament the coming weekend.  If for some reason you are going to be absent, be sure to call in or you will not be entered in the tournament. 


In order to participate in end-of-year tournaments, you must be enrolled in a minimum amount of units.  The State Championships and national tournaments require you to be enrolled in six units.  State and Nationals fall in the same semester, so it is wise to enroll in six units at the beginning of spring semester if you feel you have a chance of qualifying for an end-of-year tournament.  Decisions as to which tournaments are attended are made by the coaching staff; considerations include budget, and the talent and work ethic of the team.  Because these tournaments require a substantial capital investment on the part of the school, success at previous tournaments must play a significant role in deciding which students qualify for end-of-year tournaments.  In addition to success, we look to factors such as effort, attitude, and potential.  The decision on who competes at state and nationals is up to the coaches


The state tournament alternates between Northern and Southern California.  It lasts for four days and includes debate and IEs.  El Camino does not always attend State.  Depending on funds and other available tournaments, we may elect to go to a different travel tournament where we think the experience surpasses that of the state tournament.


There are two national tournaments: NPDA, a debate-only tournament, and Phi Rho Pi, a debate and IE tournament.  Each of these tournaments are hosted by different schools in different states each year and require air travel to attend.  NPDA lasts four days, and requires debaters to be reasonably competitive in open-level parliamentary debate.  Phi Rho Pi lasts for seven days and requires competitiveness at the junior level in debate and at the open level in IEs.  A student must have at least three competitive events.

At some point, generally at the end of fall semester, students decide which, if any, end-of-year tournament(s) they would like to attempt to qualify for and focus their practice and competition to accomplish that goal.  In order to be eligible for state and nationals, a student must enroll in the winter and spring semesters of forensics.