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The NCFL Grand National Tournament

NCFL Tournament
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Message from the NCFL (Update 5/22)

While we were looking forward to greeting all of you today, Chicago 2020 was not meant to be. In fact, Illinois is still in the early stages of reopening and even modest gatherings are prohibited. We will sincerely miss seeing all of you!!

We are happy to announce that we have agreed with Mike & Bernadette Colletti, the Chicago CFL Host Committee, the Hilton Hotel group, and Conference Direct, to host NCFL Nationals in Chicago in 2024, in addition to the previously scheduled 2025. We appreciate everyone's flexibility.

Congratulations to all of your teams, especially the graduating class of 2020, and the coaches. I know this isn't the way you wanted to celebrate the end of the year, but thank you all for your efforts all year long.

Finally, a huge thank you to Barbara Fontenot for her eight years of service on the NCFL Board. We will miss honoring her in Chicago this weekend.

We hope to see all of you in Minneapolis for NCFL 2021 on May 29-30, 2021.

Please stay safe and enjoy the summer as best you can.


NCFL 2020 Grand National Tournament is Canceled (Update 3/20)

After careful deliberation, the NCFL is forced to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Chicago NCFL Grand National Tournament.

As you can imagine, this is not a decision made lightly. We have been carefully watching the updated recommendations from federal, state and local authorities. What matters most is the health and well-being of our event attendees. Given the fast-changing events and most recent recommendations, it has become clear that we cannot safely hold our event on Memorial Day weekend.

We recognize for many of our coaches and students, this tournament is the culmination of countless hours of hard work and dedication. We are grateful for the efforts of our Chicago hosts, Michael and Bernadette Colletti, and the entire Chicago CFL Team of coaches, volunteers, and students. They have worked hard to have everything in place and were looking forward to seeing all of you. However, current restrictions on travel, large group gatherings, and the concerns from our competition sites made it impossible to work out a viable tournament plan. We are also grateful to the staff of the Chicago Hilton and the Palmer House Hilton for their partnership in fighting against the odds to try to put this tournament together. Ultimately, this proved impossible.

We share the disappointment felt by those who have already qualified for the tournament or have had their local qualifiers for the Grand National Tournament cancelled. We sympathize with those who will not have the chance to be recognized as a National Participant, Finalist, or Champion. We also recognize the impact on members of the Class of 2020, whose forensic careers may end in a manner unforseen just a few weeks ago. But we must acknowledge the gravity and reality of the current situation.

As we work through the ramifications of this decision, we have every expectation that the Grand National Tournament will return in 2021 to Minneapolis, MN. Planning for that tournament continues. While we cannot make up for the loss of this year's tournament, our goal is to make next year's tournament a celebration not only of Speech and Debate excellence, but of our resilience as a community. We remain committed to our inclusion and diversity initiatives and our motto of "Leadership Through Speech." We look forward to seeing you there.

The Grand National Tournament was already scheduled to return to Chicago for 2025. Since we couldn't make it to Chicago in 2020, we are working with our local hosts to return again in 2024 as well.

We also hope you will consider making an online donation to the 2020 service project recipient, Elyssa's Mission at http://elyssasmission.org and to support their efforts to provide help, support and suicide prevention programs to prevent teen suicide. Our mission to leave our host cities better than we found them is still our goal for Chicago, even without a tournament this year.

Since 1951, the NCFL has existed to offer high school students an opportunity to articulate leadership, and to seek the truth spoken in charity. This mission has not and will not change; our focus has always and will always be what is best for our students.

We pray for the safety of our students, our coaches, all their families and our nation during this crisis. Please know all of you are and will continue to be in our thoughts.


NCFL COVID-19 Statement (Update 3/16)

NCFL Coaches & Directors,

While plans are still in process to host NCFL Nationals in Chicago, given the severity of the situation and latest CDC guidelines, we are adjusting our registration procedures and deadlines to conform to the most current recommendations.

We will send out the revised tournament registration and hotel reservation procedures as soon as we are able.

The NCFL recognizes the difficulty our members are experiencing, and hope you are all safe and healthy during this unprecedented event.


NCFL COVID-19 Statement (Update 3/13)

NCFL Coaches & Directors,

We are keenly aware that you are following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates being sent to you from your school districts and government officials, and are wondering what the remainder of the school year holds for your team. While the status and directives in regards to COVID-19 are changing hourly, we do want to do our best to keep you apprised of the current state of affairs for NCFL 2020.

At this time, The National Catholic Forensic League 2020 Grand National Tournament will proceed as scheduled over Memorial Day weekend in May. The State of Illinois has asked all event organizers to move their meetings to May, and our usual schedule is in compliance with that order. We're hoping that the school travel restrictions are lifted by early May and we can proceed with everyone attending. That said, we are closely monitoring Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the State of Illinois, and the City of Chicago, and will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, we have created a revised registration deadline, and a new refund policy for our 2020 Grand National Tournament. We hope the extra time gives you space you might need to determine Qualifiers, and get permission from schools to attend. And with the new refund policy you can register without financial risk. We will, as always, allow name changes up until the day of the tournament so you can juggle your attendees as needed.

For NCFL 2020, the following deadlines and refund guidelines will apply:

  • Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - Preferred NCFL 2020 Registration Deadline
  • Friday, April 24, 2020 - NCFL 2020 Late Registration Deadline - NO PENALTIES WILL APPLY
  • Friday, May 1, 2020 - Last day to cancel NCFL 2020 registration with a FULL REFUND
  • Friday, May 8, 2020 - Last day to cancel NCFL 2020 registration with a 50% REFUND
As a reminder, the NCFL does not prescribe how your local qualifiers are determined. If you can't fit a traditional qualifier into your school's schedule or limitations, you can use whatever mechanism your local league would like to use to determine the qualifiers.

Registration instructions for Diocesan League Directors will be sent out this weekend. Registration will open on Monday, March 16.

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 updates and inform you with any changes as we move forward. For now, we urge you to remind your members to follow your local government and COVID-19 precautions from the CDC. The National Catholic Forensic League has been carefully following the latest updates regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We encourage you to monitor the CDC guidelines and updates at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov and follow all personal care recommendations.

We will continue to post updates on this and all other important tournament matters on NCFL.org and NCFLNationals.org.

Wash your hands often, be safe, and stay healthy!

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Please check the GENERAL INFO tabs on the right for all updates and announcements.


NCFL Coronavirus Statement

The National Catholic Forensic League has been carefully following the latest updates regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At this time, based on the latest posted CDC travel recommendations, the NCFL Grand National Tournament will be held in Chicago as scheduled. We continue to monitor updates from the CDC and federal, state, and local health organizations and will post updates on this and all other important tournament matters on NCFL.org and NCFLNationals.org.

We encourage you to check the CDC guidelines and updates at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov and follow all personal care recommendations. Be well. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago in May.


Detailed league and tournament information can be found at NCFL.org.

The NCFL sponsors the annual Grand National Tournament on Memorial Day weekend, offering six forensics events and four debate events.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed this program on the NASSP National Advisory List of Student Contests and Activities.

What are the deadlines?
Schools joining through a Local Diocesan League, must submit their Membership Forms and Dues to their Local League according to their Local Diocesan League deadlines. Local Diocesan Leagues must submit all membership forms and dues ($50 per school) by December 10. New and Existing Local Diocesan Leagues may submit late membership forms and dues ($55 per school) by January 10. New Leagues must submit membership information not later than January 10. Schools requesting Individual Membership must apply not later than January 10. Tournament Registration must be completed, and fees paid, by April 15

What is the tournament format?
Registration by league directors is on Friday afternoon. Directors arrange to distribute registration materials to coaches and judges from their local leagues on Friday night. Preliminary rounds are held on Saturday. Elimination round participants are announced on Saturday evening after Mass. Elimination rounds are held on Sunday and are followed by an awards ceremony, which will recognize the top contestants in each event. School and League awards are also distributed at the awards ceremony.

How can a student qualify to compete?
The student's school must be a member of an NCFL Local League. These leagues are geographically distributed across the United States. Each league develops its own qualification system for the national tournament. Some leagues use a point system while others hold a qualifying tournament. League quotas represent the maximum number of entries in each category that can advance to the Grand National Tournament from each local league.

NOTE: A school that is not a member of an NCFL league may enter as an independent school for one year only. As such, that school could send one entry to the Grand National Tournament. After that, the school would have to join an NCFL league in order to continue participating. Only schools that are not geographically near an existing local league can apply for individual membership. Application for this membership should be made to the President via email, not later than December 10 each year.

What are a participating coach's responsibilities?
The coach must become familiar with all rules and procedures of the NCFL. Certain categories may be unique to the NCFL, or be slightly different from those of one's state or region. NCFL coaches must also arrange to pay all fees and provide all required judges. A significant fine will be assessed to any school who fails to provide a judge after registering for the tournament.

2020 Grand National Tournament


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Congress, Extemp, and Debate

Extemp Topic Areas

    In no Particular Order
    • US Legal & Constitutional Issues
    • US Foreign Policy
    • US Economic Policy
    • 2020 US Political Issues
    • Medicine, Environment, Science, Tech
    • Societal Values & Ethical Issues
    • International Conflict & Civil Unrest
    • Foreign Economics
    • Leaders of Developing Countries
Everyone is encouraged to write Extemp QUestions and send them to us. We'll select and edit the questions for use at NCFL 2020. Yes, you could write your own question!

Questions should be submitted to Extemp@NCFL.org by April 24, 2020.


Legislation is due to Congress@NCFL.org, in the correct format (using the templates on NCFL.org), not later than April 1

2020 Service

2020 Elyssa's Mission

Chicago, IL

This year, our hosts in the Chicago Diocese have selected Elyssa's Mission to be the beneficiary of the NCFL's annual service project.

What is Elysa's Mission

Elyssa's Mission provides resources to help prevent teen suicide. The community-based organization was founded in 2006 in honor of Elyssa, a bright, gifted and outgoing Chicagoland girl who bravely battled post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Elyssa's Mission provides hands-on support to area public and private schools in order to educate students, staff, parents and guardians on how to recognize and assist those teens most at-risk. We have helped educate over 400,000 students since inception.

Elyssa's Mission funds and implements the evidence-based Signs of Suicide (SOS) program in 200 middle and high schools in Illinois through our partnership with MindWise Innovations, a Massachusetts-based organization that pioneered the concept of large-scale mental health screening and education programs. We assist with all components of the SOS program including planning, teaching and training for staff and parents.

Donations cane be made directly to Elyssa's Mission through their web page. Please be sure to mention NCFL as part of your donation.

CLICK HERE to go to the donation page.

2020 NCFL Nationals Tournament Hotels

Hotel blocks for 2020 NCFL Nationals are Open (1/20).

Please book all hotels through Conference Direct.
To make a reservation at our hotels,
please use Conference Direct Housing.

Click the BOOK NOW link if you are only reserving a few rooms.

If you need to reserve 6 or more rooms please set up a sub-block by clicking the BOOK GROUP link.

Book Now (1/21) Book Group (1/21)

The hotel websites are linked as a courtesy.
*** Please, do not book rooms for the NCFL Tournament through the hotel websites. ***

Click on the address for a map.

Custom Tournament Booklet

The following documents can be viewed separately or combined into a single PDF.

To view a single PDF, click on the NAME of the document. To create a custom PDF, select the files you want and then hit the CREATE CUSTOM PDF button below. Alternatively, you can print all of the PDFs, by selecting PRINT ALL.

Total PDFs Selected:

The documents will be merged in the following order:


2020 NCFL Nationals Tournament Sites and Locations

Things to Do and Places to Go