Debate team places third in first season tournament

Payton Clark, News Editor

The OBU debate team competed in their first tournament of the year, Sept. 7-10 at the University of Cumberlands at Williamsburg, Ken. With 12 students, the team placed third place overall, with quarter finalist Anna Chandler, octofinalists Chase Chastain, Abby Black and Avry Wood, and finalist Professor Scot Loyd in the Professional Division.

“Last year we weren’t supposed to get started but we got to take advantage of a few debate tournaments that were in close proximity to us, and we had two tournament wins,” Loyd said. “This year debate travel kicks in full-time, so this is the first full year of debate competition for the team.”

According to Loyd, the team meets every Thursday for two hours to discuss things like current events and philosophy to prepare for debate topics.

“Generally our debate topics, or what we call resolutions center around what is happening currently in philosophy, pop culture, politics, or sports,” Loyd said. “Our resolutions can come from literally anywhere.”

After the last tournament, Loyd believes that the team has seen a lot of improvement from its start last year.

“I definitely think that we have improved overall as a team,” Loyd said. “If you look at our individual records, everyone on our team got a winning record in prelims. Our team captain chase Chastain had a perfect prelim record of 6-0, and then everyone is improving on their speaking ability.”

Within the International Public Debate Association there are four divisions, novice, junior varsity, varsity and professional, allowing Loyd to also compete with his students.

“I, as a professional, am competing against higher level students and coaches, and all of our other competitors are in the novice division,” Loyd said. “So we can come back to the table during that 30 minutes of prep, and by luck of the strike, we may sometimes have the same resolution on the same side so we can prep together. Not only are we competing together but we’re preparing together.”

According to sophomore elementary education major Arielle Heiser, who is also social chair of the debate team, a regular tournament has many rounds and opportunities for advancement.

“When we get to the tournament there are usually between four to six preliminary rounds (depending on your division) once those are done then comes out rounds,” Heiser said. “Now you only make it out rounds if you have a winning record with the preliminary rounds. It goes octafinialst, quarter finalists, semi, and then finalist.”

Although Heiser didn’t place, the team was very successful in their first tournament of the year.

“This tournament I know I did my best but I, unfortunately, didn’t break, you win some you lose some,”  Heiser said. “However my teammates did amazing, as usual. Especially my cute fiancé who won all 6 of his preliminary rounds. Our team is full of amazing, intelligent, and witty humans.”

An important part of debate is being able to craft a persuasive argument to convince any judge.

“Our judges can be literally anyone,” Loyd said. “A lot of times you walk into the room and you look at that person and you have to size them up pretty quickly, you have to do some analysis and make some judgement calls based on what they look like and about the area of the country you’re in.”

Out of 12 other schools, the OBU debate team placed third over larger schools such as Southern Methodist University, the University of Virginia and the University of Tennessee.

“We placed third in this tournament ahead of larger universities such as the University of Virginia, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville just barely edged us out,” Loyd said. “At this particular tournament they look at the number of wins that you had, so based upon our entries and the number of wins that we had we were slightly below the University of Tennessee, earning us third place overall out of about 12 other schools.”


Debate Group
The debate team participated in their first season tournament at the University of Cumberlands at Williamsburg. Courtesy Photo / The Bison

Heiser explained that while she experiences nerves like everyone else, it is important to have fun and relax.


“I usually just try to have fun with it, I make a lot of jokes but I think I do that to overcompensate for my nervousness,” Heiser said. “No matter how many rounds or tournaments you go to… you still get nervous. It’s just inevitable.”

In preparation for the rest of the season, Hesier said the team will keep up to date with current events knowledge and have a good time with each other.

“We will continue expanding our knowledge about debate and the news,” Heiser said. “We plan on getting in more practice days to better ourselves and continue to have fun with it.”

Loyd believes that one of the best parts of this particular type of debate is the fact that everyone has their own style.

“Everyone has a particular speaking style, everyone has a way that they approach making their case, so they can really craft it to their personality and their way of doing things,” Loyd said. “Overall I think that all of us can improve on our speaking and being more persuasive with our speaking.”

Based on the criteria for winning debates, knowledge or speaking abilities, Loyd believes that the team can still improve in both areas.

“There are two ways to win, based on logic or the soundness of our arguments, or based upon your ability to be an eloquent or organized speaker. National champion debaters are both,” Loyd said. “That’s where we can all improve, the marriage of knowledge and eloquence, so we can more effectively persuade a variety of audiences.”

For those interested in debating, Loyd said the best thing to do it just show up to practices, which are held on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“What we ask is that you take a look at what we do, and if you have a desire to do that then we will help you get involved,” Loyd said. “I tell prospective debaters all the time, the only thing that I cannot teach you is to be competitive. I can help you to become a better speaker and a critical thinker. That is what we do and those are the skills that are developed by competitive debate.”



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