Debate students prepare for tournaments


Debate students work hard to prepare for upcoming tournaments. For some competitions, students must prepare their argument for the topic in advance. “We’ve been writing a pro/con speech,” says Kate Carline.

Paige Ruder, Reporter

While the weather outside may be cooling down, the debate room is only heating up as competitors ready their arguments for upcoming tournaments with their next tournament set to happen this Saturday on Sep. 14 in Tyler, Texas.


Though their competitive season has only just begun, these students have been preparing behind the scenes for months.


“We start preparing over the summer,” coach Seth Phillips said. “Students typically go to debate camps, some as long as three weeks.”


“We get one of the topics over the summer, and then most of the topics we don’t get until right as school is about to start,” Phillips said.


“I have to look at 15 different topics so I can prepare” says Drew Wessels, a student preparing for the tournaments.


The topics for policy debate run for the entirety of the year. While others, such as the Lincoln Douglas debate, only run for a couple of months.


“We’ve been doing research on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” says debate student Kate Carline. “So we can write a pro/con speech about it.”


For some events, students don’t receive their topics until they arrive at the tournament, where they will draw a topic. At this particular event, students then have 30 minutes to prepare a speech of seven minutes. This speech is to be delivered entirely from memory and with source citations.


Though their tournaments are usually limited to the state of Texas, debate students have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people.


“What’s different about us compared to other events in UIL, for example, in football and volleyball, they only compete against 5A (or just 6A as the case is this year),” Phillips said.

These debate members actually encounter opponents from across the nation.


“(In) speech and debate, we compete against everyone, including private schools,” Phillips said. “We also compete against schools that come from all over the country.”


Yet, most of the time, according to Phillips, they stay close to home.


“We normally stay in the state of Texas,” Phillips said. “We have nationals in Dallas this year, but last year we were at Fort Lauderdale.”