A fresh face is picking up several big honors for the John Brown University Forensics Team, and he is not majoring in any sort of communications degree.
He is a freshman youth ministry major.
Joshua McBride, a freshman, said he stumbled upon the team when Erick Roebuck, assistant professor of communication, hired him to be his work study.
After a bit of exposure to debate in high school, McBride was asked to do a preliminary debate tournament. His performance made Roebuck ask the freshman to do more.
Roebuck calls him “a natural performer.”
McBride’s focus at the speech tournaments is performing practiced interpretations of pieces of literature or poetry.
“He has really found his niche in those types of events,” said Roebuck.
Roebuck typically suggests what specific pieces McBride use for the competitions, but McBride takes it to the next level by putting himself into it.
“When choosing, I just kind of think about if I can relate to the character in the piece and where he’s coming from or what’s going on in the story,” McBride said.
The freshman has been reeling in the awards so far. He and his partner, junior Andrew Goff, won first place in the Arkansas State tournament in Conway, Ark. McBride was also named state champion in the area of prose in Conway, as well as being given several other awards in prose and poetry.
The most recent tournament, Golden Cowboy Invitational, which took place last month in California, earned McBride a second place award in prose interpretation. Not only that, but he picked up fifth place in poetry interpretation.
Roebuck said this was significant because the best-ranked forensics team in the nation, Western Kentucky University, was also competing for the awards.
The fact that McBride’s major is not in the Department of Communication does not bother Roebuck one bit.
“I know Josh will have a great career and will bring JBU many awards and accolades, maybe even a national championship,” Roebuck said. “His greatest potential, however, lies in his future as a youth minister.”
For McBride, following God in his choice of major was most important.
“God really put youth ministry on my heart in early high school and throughout it, but I really kind of chose to ignore him for what I wanted to do, which was music,” he said. “Well, I got to JBU, and he promptly showed me how wrong I was, and now I really feel that I’m right where he wants me to be.”
With all the success and attention he has gotten in just his first year of college, McBride keeps it simple: God helped him all the way through.
“It’s all God, there is absolutely no way I could do what I do without his divine help and love,” he said.
Only time will tell how many more awards McBride will win for JBU, but Roebuck has big expectations for the freshman. The team will compete in Christian College Nationals at Carson Newman College over Spring Break.
“He certainly has had a lot of success in the tournaments he has attended so far, but the exciting thing is that Josh still has a lot of room to grow as a communicator and performer,” said Roebuck. “Now that he has done well on the state and regional level, we are going to see how well he can do at the national level.”