Forensics 'Family' Hopes to Continue 'Top 5' Legacy
GMU forensics aims for their 25th Top 5 national ranking in team's history.
Written by GMU student Joey Adams.
After ranking fourth overall in the nation last year, the George Mason forensics team aims to fulfill the Mason forensics legacy another year, a legacy defined by success and a sense of family.
The team mantra for this season: “25 in 5.”
“[That's] to get into the top 5 [national ranking] for the 25th time [in program history],” said Dr. Peter Pober, the director of the team since the fall of 2003.
Mason forensics has ranked top 10 in the nation in 24 of the last 32 years. And while under the direction of Pober -- top-5 finishes every year since 2007.
Pober, the director of the George Mason forensics team, is a prominent figure in the field. He has been named the Texas Intercollegiate Forensic Association Coach of the Year; he’s won the American Forensic Association National Distinguished Service Award; and was awarded the L.E. Norton Forensic Educator Award. And many others.
Though similar in nature, the forensics carried out by Pober’s team is not the mouth swabbing, DNA collecting, crime scene investigation made famous by TV shows such as “CSI,” and “Criminal Minds.”
“We [still] search for truth through argumentation and evidence in advocacy,” Pober said. “We’re just doing it from the standpoint of topics and arguments.”
While the team has succeeded in filling the school’s trophy case, Rob Warchol, a senior at GMU and co-captain of the team, defines the program in a different way.
“Mason forensics?” Warchol pondered. “I guess if I were to define it in one word, it would be family.”
Pober also noted the family-like atmosphere.
“There is a tremendous sense of family,” Pober said, “that plays a huge role in the nature we call the legacy of 42 years in the program.”
Warchol reminisced about his last four years as a member of the team.
“I come from a team back in Ohio, from Cardinal Mooney High School, and we were all about promoting being there for each other even outside of when we compete,” Warchol, a three-time-national finalist in extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, said. “That’s one thing Dr. Pober really promotes here. That’s really special about our program.”
Unofficially, the team’s season began Labor Day weekend at a retreat to the Shenandoah Valley. The trip offered incoming freshmen, like William Wildman, insight to the history and legacy of Mason forensics.
“It was awesome,” Wildman said. “It was our first chance to be with the team exclusively and get to see what our work ethic is all about.”
The trip also provided the time together that helps create the sense of family on the team.
“It was really cool to have that bonding time and get to know each other more than we already do,” Wildman said.
Wildman and his freshmen counterparts are well aware of the success the team has had in years past and what is expected of them in the coming months.
“With Mason forensics, there’s this legacy of excellence that we’re expected to maintain,” Wildman said. “But the unity we have, and the family sense we have, kind of takes away that pressure.”
In an effort to continue the Mason forensics legacy, Pober has high hopes for incoming freshmen such as Wildman.
“We have an incoming ‘fresh’ class that I think is, if not the most talented, one of the most talented I’ve ever had in my 25 consecutive years of directing a program and now 36 years of doing forensics period,” Pober said. “They are outrageously talented. I’m really excited to see what they bring to the table.”
The nearly eight-month-long forensics season has begun, and this year’s Mason team is counting down the days until their first event.
“We’re looking forward to this year,” Warchol said. “In years past, they’ve been good, but Dr. Pober has articulated the sky is the limit for us. Whether that’d be competitively, or whether that’d be as a program as a whole for Mason.”