Aaron Blackman receives American Forensics Association Distinguished Service Award

KEARNEY – Aaron Blackman, a senior lecturer in the UNK Department of Communication, recently received the Larry Schnoor District IV Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the American Forensics Association.

The award recognizes forensics coaches for their exemplary service, commitment to the activity and dedication to students and fellow coaches across the district. Recipients are nominated by their peer institutions, with District IV consisting of collegiate forensics teams in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Aaron Blackman
Aaron Blackman

Blackman, who serves as director of forensics at UNK, is one of just three people to receive the District IV Distinguished Service Award over the past six years. He was honored during last month’s American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament in Lincoln.

Nathaniel Wilson, an assistant professor of practice in communication and director of forensics at Doane University, called Blackman “one of the most knowledgeable people in District IV regarding the operation of tournaments.”

“Aaron helps so many hosts put together and run their tournaments and remains humbly in the background,” Wilson wrote in his nomination letter. “As the pandemic forced our activity online, Aaron was instrumental in instructing teams around the region on how to run online synchronous and asynchronous tournaments. Language that Aaron crafted in the fall of 2020 has become commonplace on local, regional and even national tournament invitations around the country.”

Blackman has served several terms as treasurer for the Nebraska Intercollegiate Forensics Association and as a committee member at the district level. He hosts tournaments at UNK and assists with operations at other locations.

“Perhaps most importantly, Aaron is one of the best people to ever be trusted with a ballot. As most coaches of small programs will understand, Aaron is assigned more ballots than most school judges. And, despite the overwhelming number of rounds he has judged over the past decade-plus, Aaron still consistently produces some of the most thoughtful, supportive, constructive, challenging and encouraging ballots our students can ever ask for,” Wilson wrote.

“It takes great care and an unbelievable amount of energy to produce the quality of ballot that Aaron produces hundreds of times each year. My students are better because of him. And, I know that sentiment is true for all District IV teams.”