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Speech and debate prepare for upcoming tournaments

The Speech and Debate team’s first quarter of the season has started with top finishes in Lincoln-Douglas, Congressional and Policy debate. Lincoln-Douglas debaters are competing to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, a national high school debate tournament held at the University of Kentucky every year on the last weekend in April.

Lincoln-Douglas debaters argued on the topic of whether or not adolescents should be able to make their own medical decisions, while policy debaters argued if the US should cut down on its surveillance. Additionally, congressional debaters spoke on a number of proposed bills, such as the flouridification of water and the implementation of civilian oversight programs for the police.

Senior John Overing, Speech and Debate President, has been placed in the top seventy-five Lincoln-Douglas debaters nation-wide and has received two “bids,” which qualify him for the Tournament of Champions.

Speech and Debate moderator Mr. James Zucker said, “The team has performed very well. John Overing has performed exceptionally by receiving two bids by performing well in the previous tournaments. Now, the team is focused on getting more members qualified for the Tournament of Champions, the biggest event of the year.”

Overing said, “I qualified to the Tournament of Champions by placing in quarterfinals at two prestigious tournaments. I made it to quarterfinals of the Presentations Invitational in San Jose, California, and the Heart of Texas Invitational in Dallas, Texas. The first tournament hosted about 100 entries; the second tournament was more competitive, with about 150 top debaters.”

Speech and Debate Vice President Bo Slade, a senior, is working to earn a spot in the top seventy-five and to be invited to the Tournament of Champions. Slade is a Lincoln-Douglas competitor, and the closest Loyola debater to qualifying for the Tournament of Champions, needing only one more bid to qualify for the tournament.

Other debaters, such as seniors Andrew Perez of Lincoln-Douglas, Jarad Gonzales of Congressional Debate and Miles Gray of Policy Debate, are also competing to qualify for the Tournament of Champions.  

Despite having an unusually low novice turnout, Mr. Zucker said that the novice debaters are “very intelligent, strong, eager to learn, and are really invested in the debate team.”

The novices are presented with a “Big Brother” mentoring program, where the novices can choose a varsity debater to mentor them. Slade said, “We [Varsity Members] mentor these kids by creating similar debaters [to ourselves]. For example, I tend to be good at debating politics, but Andrew Perez is very good at debating philosophy. So, the debaters who select Andrew as their mentor are more likely to be philosophy debaters and those whom I mentor are likely to be better political debaters.”

The novice members have shown incredible progress this year and are likely going to be jumped from novice to varsity in the middle of the year, according to Mr. Zucker.

Overing said, “I foresee great success from our current novices. The younger debaters have demonstrated not only a lot of potential in their abilities, but also quite a bit of enthusiasm. I have no doubt that we’ll see significant levels of success through the next few years at least.”

The next set of tournaments will be held at Harvard Westlake for Lincoln-Douglas; Notre Dame High School, Policy; and Leuzinger High School, Congressional Debate. Lincoln-Douglas will be debating about jury nullification; policy debaters will continue to argue the topic of surveillance techniques throughout the year; congressional debaters will be focusing on issues such as military action in Syria and the usage of autonomous vehicles.


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