ShenVaFL 4 Online Forensics

2021 — NSDA Campus, VA/US

For details such as schedule, history, results, and more please go to our league home page of


If you are interested in joining the Shenandoah Valley Forensics League and entering this tournament please contact Steve O'Baugh (


Otherwise, come tournament time any schools not recognized as a member of the league or not having made contact with Steve will have their schools and entries deleted from the tournament.



Stephen L. O'Baugh

ShenVaFL President


(Specifics for this tournament - please do not forget to touch base with me so I know that you did not accidentally register.)


I. ShenVaFL #4 (Judge requirement, schedule, etc.)
II. Forensics Rules (Script Use Rules, Extemp topics, etc.)
III. Virtual Competition Updates and Information
We elected to not charge any entry or league fees this year in a philanthropic effort to help keep Speech and Debate going during this unusual time.  The biggest thing we have asked of coaches all year is to try and make sure judges are accounted for.
I. ShenVaFL #4
Our next (and last for the year) tournament will take place on Saturday, January 23rd for Forensics.
Normally, the deadline is at least a week before the tournament, but since I am behind in my duties of informing everyone I have moved the registration deadline in order to give programs more time.
The deadline for registration is Monday, January 18th at 8:00 p.m. 
Name changes (and partner switches) for Forensics may be made up until Wednesday, January 20th at 5:30 p.m. where all things entered will be no longer open to editing.
The schedule for Saturday, January 23rd is as follows:
-Onsite Registration starts at 7:00 a.m. (Please be checked in before the first round.)
-First round: 10:00 a.m. (Extemp prep starts at 9:30 a.m.)
-Second round: 11:30 (Extemp prep starts at 11:00)
-Third round: 1:30 (Extemp prep starts at 1:00)
-Results will be sent out to coaches as soon as the last ballots are in.  (This is anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours after the start of the last round.)
The judge requirement has been changed to reflect the fact that there is an extra round and an attempt (attempt!) at trying to have two-judge panels in every event.
Please note that the two-judge panel is an aspiration and not necessarily a guarantee.
-One judge for every five Forensics (speech) entries.
This would be a great opportunity to have judges trained up on virtual judging so please do get all that you are able to for this tournament.
As with our last tournament, I am sending out some judge information for you to share with your judges ahead of time. The more proactive we can be the better our timeline will stay on track.

Forensics Guidelines - Google Doc 

The website for Forensics Guidelines 


Thank you to Mr. Bradly Walton of Harrisonburg for creating these handy judge overviews.  Also, thank you to Mr. Walton and Mr. Villacrusis for leading our judge orientation(s) at all of our tournaments this year.  This certainly helps us all out!
I am learning NSDA Campus at this final tournament and so don't expect there to be an opportunity for a judges' meeting or competitors' meeting.  The YouTube videos below in item III. will be that much more important given this consideration.
One thing to keep in mind if you are judging is that this is a learning league, and while we know folks are not necessarily going to always be at the top of their game, especially if they're new, very low points should only be occurring if there is an inappropriate and/or disrespectful interaction taking place.  
We obviously don't want to coddle our students, but we also don't want to demoralize them either.  
III. Forensics

No double entry.

Script Use (ShenVaFL #2/#3/#4) - Any script use should result in not placing first in the room.  Please assign points per their performance but do not award them the rank of 1.

Timing: Anyone going beyond the 30 second grace period should also not be counted as first in their room.  Do NOT stop competitors, however.  If they are going to go on for 15 minutes let them.
Also, hand signals are for use in Extemp and Impromptu only.  No other events should be receiving hand signals.
Just a reminder that we have two new events: Informative and Program of Oral Interpretation.  Feel free to check them out.

Extemporaneous speaking topics (and their order)-

Round 1 - Domestic: The Biden Administration and Election 2020 Fallout 

Round 2 - International: International Economics (and Economies)

Round 3 - Domestic: Covid and The Economy

One note that is worth mentioning - we are informing judges that students should be staying in the room after they have given their speech in Extemp.  This is a supportive measure as well as one that encourages learning from others.
III. Virtual Competition Updates and Information

One thing we are asked about quite a bit is video use by competitors - Here is what we have said and will continue to say -
Those competing should make every effort to have their video on just as the judge should.  Only the person that is actively speaking and the judge should have their cameras on while anyone and everyone else in the room should have their video off.
Important information/lessons learned from previous virtual tournaments -
Many folks had concerns with the timer in perhaps consider using your own phone or going to and using their stopwatch to keep track of time.
Also, be aware that "snapping" windows  Alt + [ in Chrome and holding a click on the green dot in Mac (as well as dragging a window off to either side to be resized in various Windows machines) is something that helps create a set-up similar to having two monitors at the same time. 
-The Shenandoah Valley Forensics League cannot, and will not, in good conscience advise, recommend, or require that students be in the same room for virtual competitions. Student safety is paramount and I would rather not have competition at all if there is to be any serious risk involved.

If you, as the coach, are comfortable with them being in the same room but distanced (10 feet minimum) that is entirely up to you, but it is the position of this league for any and all events involving a partner that safety takes priority and so instructions and planning have been geared around partners being in separate locations.

"The VDH and NFHS mitigation recommendations are paramount. For example, if athletes break the 10' rule, they can be in procedural violation. Every school should have a mitigation plan that includes "performing, speaking, singing, etc" students not within 10'. If they separate the required 10' recommended by VDH and NFHS, the video/audio will be substandard. Each of my students (including Duo) will be in a separate room. Debate as well. We are allowing them to share google doc and phones for texting." - Mr. Edgerton of Fluvanna


Other reminders:

-A great point brought forth by the venerable Mr. Bradley Walton of Harrisonburg - concerns student speeches and whether they will be standing or seated. While the preference is for students to be standing to make use of their space as if they are in person we must recognize that this may not be possible for a multitude of reasons:


-No open space available if competing at home.


-Microphones may not pick up audio if the distance required to see the body is too far away. (Remember we are not all using the same equipment and should not act as though we are.)


-Please be aware that if a competitor chooses to remain seated for technical purposes that this should not be held against them or result in points being docked. Everyone's home set-up is different and so we must be respectful of that just as we would if there were a competitor with a disability that would negate the ability to stand. 


-Coaches, we are utilizing the online check-in system this year. You will need to be logged in to and make use of your team room for check-in purposes.  This team room is provided for you and your competitors. If there is a drop please e-mail or text me directly.


-Please avoid virtual backgrounds due to bandwidth concerns (judges and competitors).


-If not speaking keeping video/microphones off helps everyone involved. (Congress will need to try to keep the video on for motions, Points of Order, and the like.)


-Judges should keep their video on for hand signals and give the competitors someone to look at.


-Everyone's set-up is different and so if a headset is used realize that it may be the only way that they may use a microphone. The same goes for any handheld microphones although we don't expect this to be the case too often.


A wonderful judge joining us this season and who has been with ShenVaFL for some time, Mr. Ray Smith, has shared some excellent information that may be worth reviewing sometime before the tournament. (Down below under Information Items)


Judges should be sure to submit your 1st round ballot before working on your 2nd and then your 3rd. You CAN submit your rankings and points and go back to complete notes and comments later - until 8:00 p.m. to be exact.

Information Items

-NSDA Online Speech and Debate Tips




(Disregard pages 4-6 since we are not using pre-recorded performances.)


If you have any questions/concerns as a follow-up to this tournament information please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thanks, everyone for a great continuation of the Forensics and Debate season!
See you all in a couple of weeks!
-Stephen L. O'Baugh