Alli Kennon and Carly Spotts-Falzone met at a forensics tournament in high school when then-senior Spotts-Falzone gave then-junior Kennon some money for a burrito. Kennon paid Spotts-Falzone back two years later on her first day on the Hastings College forensics team.
Three years later, the pair performed and cried together while competing with and against each other at the National Forensic Association (NFA) National Tournament April 18-22 in Santa Ana, California.
“She would suggest something, and I would poke holes in it. She would come up with something else, and I would be like, ‘OK, that’s better.’ We would just make each other better,” Spotts-Falzone said.
Kennon and Spotts-Falzone competed in 10 events combined at NFA and passed preliminary rounds in nine events. They competed against each other in prose interpretation and dramatic interpretation, then made it to quarterfinals together in duo interpretation.
“We connected in that way where we became two people on the team that we knew the other would always be working and would always be there to help push the other one,” Spott-Falzone said.
Kennon, a Hastings College junior from Lakeville, Minnesota, took first place in prose interpretation at NFA and made quarterfinals in communication analysis and octafinals in dramatic interpretation.
Spotts-Falzone, a Hastings College senior from Wayzata, Minnesota, made it to semi-finals in program oral interpretation, informative speaking, and poetry for her final collegiate forensics tournament. She also made quarterfinals for dramatic interpretation and octafinals for prose interpretation.
“She has been one of the biggest influences in my college career,” Kennon said.
Kennon’s first-place prose interpretation was a performance of “Why I Didn’t Save the World: A Survivor’s Story of Rape, Life, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” a memoir by Patricia Lawrence.
According to Kennon, the piece is about how society focuses on victim’s stories and less about a victim’s safety and healing afterward.
“When I watched her (Spotts-Falzone’s) prose final last year, when she was a junior, I was like ‘Man, I want to be there.” So it was kind of full circle for her to watch me at that moment,” Kennon said.
Spotts-Falzone took third place at the NFA tournament in 2018.
The pair’s duo performance was about female journalists. They chose the topic after learning 2017 was the “deadliest” year for women journalists, Kennon said.
“We’d been so close for years that it was so easy for us to be duo partners because we knew each other’s processes,” Spotts-Falzone said.
Kennon’s passion for forensics has taken her to become one of two national student representatives for the American Forensic Association (AFA), the first from Hastings College. She will represent students at the national committee for AFA.
Spotts-Falzone’s success is not limited to the forensics circuit. She was one of three Bronco Award recipients this year, the highest non-academic award for a student at Hastings College.
“It’s a community-building award. So for that reason, it felt good because I love the community so much. It was cool and seemed emblematic of my experience,” Spotts-Falzone said.
Spotts-Falzone also was awarded an All-American at the AFA National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET), making the 15th from Hastings College and the first to break five events since 2000.
Spotts-Falzone will be graduating May 18 with a communication studies major with women and gender studies and journalism minors. After graduation, she will be moving back to the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota area to work and coach speech at a local high school.
“I love being able to look someone in the face, say something and then watch them have a personal revelation or a moment ... I’ve had my world change a couple of times watching people and talking to people. To be able to do that for others, if I can, would be amazing,” Spotts-Falzone said.
Kennon and Spotts-Falzone were the only two students from Hastings College at NFA. Hastings College sends only juniors and seniors to NFA due to financial constraints.
NFA is five days, compared to AFA-NIET, includes debate and more students across the country compete because of lower qualification requirements.
“NFA is more of a reward tournament,” Kennon said.
The Hastings College forensics team finished its season overall with a ninth place at AFA-NIET. This is the first time the team has had back-to-back top ten finishes at AFA-NIET since 2000. There, the team had three students break for prose, the first time since 2005: Spotts-Falzone, Kennon and Courtney Hanson, a sophomore. All 12 members of the team took a total of 45 events to AFA-NIET.