Debate team places 3rd at nationals

June 3, 2014

debateOver spring break the Bryan debate team placed third in its division at the National Christian College Forensics Association National Tournament held in Azusa, Calif., despite the challenges of traveling thousands of miles to engage debate teams from across the nation.

Caroline LaPlue, Grace Halsey, Laura Maye,
Ashton Alexander, and Vincent Smith.
Photo courtesy of Michael Palmer
Bryan’s parliamentary debate team left Chattanooga at 6 a.m. on a US Air flight to Los Angeles International Airport. When they touched down, “it was summer,” said sophomore Grace Halsey. To the north, they could see the snow-covered San Gabriel Mountains through the palm trees.

That Friday they fought through five rounds of parliamentary debate. By the time they finished, it was 9 p.m., PST—or midnight Dayton time.

Bryan teams then debated another round the next morning at 8 L.A. time.

Sophomore Ashton Alexander and junior Laura Maye debated as a team for the first time together at nationals, as did Halsey and sophomore Caroline LaPlue. Both teams won three and lost three of their rounds in the tournament.

However, senior Vincent Smith advanced to the final rounds and debated as far as octa-finals, the round between the top eight teams at the tournament. His partner for that tournament only was Whitney Tipton, a student from Carson-Newman College (Jefferson City, Tenn.). While the other teams from Bryan did not advance to the final rounds, Smith made the top eight. He was ranked the 13th best speaker at the whole tournament as well.

Bryan discovered that the resolutions at the National tournament had more of a Christian focus than earlier tournaments. For every round, the teams debate a different resolution. At this tournament, the most memorable resolution that the teams encountered was, “resolved: open the eyes of the blind.”

“We ran that the ‘blind’ was the UN, and that we would hold a week-long SSTOP conference,” said Halsey.

She and LaPlue won that round.

“It’s kinda hard for anyone to argue that human trafficking isn’t a problem,” she said.

After the tournament, the team was able to “leave fingerprints in Hollywood and Beverly Hills,” said Associate Professor of Communications Studies Michael Palmer, advisor to the Debate Team.

“L.A. is, oh my gosh, is an awesome city,” said Alexander.

Because of the success of the tournament, “The debate team really became a team—even more so than before,” said Halsey.

For the debaters who debate in the club, it adds worth to their time spent prepping for tournaments the whole semester.

“It affirms that our work is not in vain,” said Alexander.

In the fall, the Debate team will be offered as a one-credit class.

The national debate tournament will be held next year at Carson-Newman College.