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Breaking school records in college forensics is something that a small-town Clearwater-Orchard graduate had never dreamt of as she stepped into her speech suit for the first time as a high school freshman.
But, six years later, Katie Funk could never imagine where she would be without the opportunities, relationships, skills and passion speech has given her.
At a young age, Funk’s interest for speech grew more and more each Saturday as she watched her older sister perform countless times. Not only did her older sister influence her love for speech, but Funk also said that it was nice growing up in a smaller school where she was able to be involved in so many activities.
Unsure of what she should compete in, Funk began her high school career performing in duet acting and persuasive. Moving on into her junior and senior years, she found success competing in entertainment and serious prose. Funk finished her high school career with a third place medal at state in entertainment her junior year, and a second place medal at state in entertainment her senior year.
Although her memories from high school speech are endless, she said one of her favorite memories was from her freshman year with her duet partner, Jake Allemang.
“We had a part in our speech where he had to stand on the table. We were in a room where the ceiling was really low and I told him not to stand before we performed, but he forgot,” said Funk. “When we were performing, Jake stood on the table and hit his head on the ceiling and knocked the ceiling tile out of place. I was laughing so hard that I could hardly say my lines.”
Throughout the years, Funk has had constant support from her siblings, friends, coaches and most importantly, her parents. She said throughout the years, her mom and dad have been her biggest supporters, helping whenever they can and being sure to attend as many competitions as possible.
“Last year, they traveled to Wisconsin to watch me compete at Nationals, and it honestly meant the world to me,” she said.
Not evening knowing the possibility of competing in speech at the college level, Funk was surprised when the Concordia speech coaches reached out during her visit. Sitting down with the coaches, she was given the opportunity to play volleyball and compete in speech.
Funk said, “I knew immediately it was what I wanted. All of my coaches and teammates have been really flexible and patient, so I’m able to be involved in both programs and it’s been amazing.”
Currently in her second year at Concordia, she has competed in Dramatic Interpretation, which has qualified for two national tournaments; Prose, which has qualified for one national tournament; and Duo, which has qualified for one national tournament. Funk is putting in more work this season as she prepares a Program of Oral Interpretation (POI), as well as a Persuasive speech.
Speaking with Forensics Director, Andrew Moffitt, there was no doubt how important Funk has been to the team.
“Katie has been one of our most dedicated competitors in the last few years. We are in the process of completely rebuilding the speech team at Concordia, and she has been key in not only achieving renewed competitive success, but she also has helped mold a team culture that stresses not only competitive success, but one of trust and support as well,” said Moffitt, who is in his third year as director.
This year Funk’s team has broken several records, including the number of finalists in a single weekend of competition, number of national bids achieved in a single month, and fastest time to qualify an event by a single competitor. Speakers for Concordia, including Funk, have qualified for a total of 13 events to the NFA National Championship, which will be held in April at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
“I have really enjoyed finding a passion for change. I have really become fascinated with finding passion in things I was never really interested in before because I never took the time to learn about them. I have also cherished all of the amazing people I have gotten to meet because of it. I have teammates from all over the country, and a couple from around the world,” she stated.
Funk will continue her career this season as well as her junior and senior year at Concordia, as well as continue studying for a major in Marketing and minor in Graphic Design. After finishing college, she plans to share her passion for speech as a judge or coach, and be sure to do her part to make sure to use her voice for those who don’t have one.